LIVING IN A small beach town, we are not as immediately aware of the ongoing impact of the coronavirus as more populous parts of the country. Yes, we have had our cases, and sadly our deaths. But it’s only when I have visited busier locations that I recognize the constricting nature of social distancing and other safety measures. Traveling for business recently gave me a keener awareness of how grumpy people are when their physical boundaries or accepted freedoms are reduced.
It’s easy to be judgmental about others’ self-centeredness, but not long ago I had my own reminder about how much we take our liberties for granted. I discovered that, due to an oversight, I had let my driver’s license lapse by more than a year. Some Google research revealed that not only would I have to take the written test again, but I would also have to redo the actual driving portion to obtain a new license.
However, work and other commitments meant that I would not be able to schedule to do both for at least a couple of weeks. Suddenly, I felt my world shrinking, like how the walls of a room close in in one of those bad horror movies.
Because I mostly work from home, we have only one vehicle. That’s when I realized how I would be stranded there even on days that Marcia didn’t need the car for her work. This wouldn’t be a major or long-term inconvenience, but I felt myself getting antsy, frustrated, irritated.
Thankfully, my fears proved to be unfounded. A call to the local DMV office the next morning revealed that I only needed to sit the written portion of the test, which I could walk in and do later that day. Super-relieved, I did (and passed. Phew!).
Before this good news, all I could think of was the things I would not be able to do—meet friends before work for coffee, run out to the store at a moment’s notice, or go somewhere on my own without needing Marcia to chauffeur me.
My pity party gained some perspective by the headlines in the newspaper the morning I learned I wasn’t going to be sidelined: Missouri inmate Kevin Strickland had just been released from prison after more than 42 years. A judge overturned his murder conviction because the evidence had been proven suspect.
Don’t we all take so much for granted? Even as I faced the prospect of not being able to drive, I should have been appreciating that I was still physically capable of walking anywhere I wanted to—and that I was able to do so because I was a free man.
If we spent more time being grateful for what we do have, rather than worrying and complaining about what we don’t have (or might lose), we might have a better, brighter perspective.