In 2017, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters created her own catchphrase: “Reclaiming my time."
It came about during a question-and-answer session in Congress when she, as questioner, wasn’t getting the answers she wanted. The guy in the hot seat was avoiding, diverting and talking endlessly while she was on a time limit.
She repeatedly chanted “reclaiming my time” like a mantra. It became a social media buzzword, a gospel rap on YouTube and the name of her biography.
I bring this up because it keeps coming into my mind. Here we are a full year, give or take, into the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
It is literally a year since many of us have done anything we once considered normal.
Doesn't it seem ages ago since there was a toilet-paper shortage?
Call me naive, but I truly didn’t think we would still be in this mess with no quick resolve.
I find myself saying:
1. It has been a year since we (insert names) met for coffee.
2. It was a year ago since my last vacation/road trip/hotel stay.
3. Other than take-out or pick-up, it has been almost a year since most of us ate in a restaurant. That seems shocking as it used to be such a regular event. It was always my favourite thing to do and now seems like a distant memory.
4. Facebook sends those memory pictures and old status updates and they make you realize we have been mask wearing, hand sanitizing, social distancing beings for endless months now.
5. I haven't dressed up nicely for so long. I assume, by now, nothing fits.
What bothers me more than anything is that we also can’t “reclaim our time.”
We are never going to get back any of the time we could have spent with family celebrating a myriad of special occasions. Some people were planning weddings, graduations, baptisms — what a hard thing to have to forego or postpone.
Even worse, how many people have lost loved ones to COVID or otherwise and have not been able to have a proper funeral? Limited or no visitations, no sense of community, no closure. We are never getting that time back.
Yes, we can hopefully celebrate/commemorate in the future, but it will never be the same. Those are the frozen moments in time.
Time is a moving thing and there’s no way to back it up. I find that not only sad, but frightening.
There are so many what-ifs.
What if they don’t get the vaccine out to everybody as soon as we are hoping?
What if a lot of people won’t take it?
What if the variants keep cropping up and the virus keeps mutating?
What if the lockdowns are continuous?
And let’s face it, life happens. Many haven’t been working in a long time. How long will it be until we catch up financially? Can we?
If this drags on, how long can businesses stay afloat? Obviously, some are not making it and that is such a loss.
At what point are the children socially stunted by having so little access to their classmates and playmates? How do they catch up?
Do we work at home forever? Will there be a return to offices and brick-and-mortar stores?
I know it's all part of the unknown, which leads to a lot of angst.
What if Dr. Anthony Fauci runs out of answers? (He won't.)
Last year, it was so much easier to tell ourselves we would get through it. It won’t last much longer. We can handle a few more weeks of restrictions for the greater good. Masks are no big deal.
Generally speaking, I think we are doing the very best we can at finding the silver lining.
Sure, there have been some positives like time at home with kids and pets, more time for crafts, books and new hobbies. There’s been less commuting, less pollution, and less noise in the world at large.
Still, I hear Congresswoman Waters in my head saying, “Reclaiming my time.”
In that hearing, she had her time restored.
I wish we could be so lucky.