A TOPSY-TURVY LIFE….

    

                                    By ROSEMARY LORD

           

Do you ever feel that your life seems to have been turned upside down these last couple of years? Topsy-turvy. All those goals you had listed, carefully planned, trips scheduled, Writers’ Conferences booked. Gone. Banished. Cancelled. Due to the Covid pandemic lock-down. So, you took a deep breath and made yourself a cup of tea, coffee or poured a nice glass of something stronger. “Okay,” you told yourself, “I can manage this. Find another approach…”

            How did that work out?  Do I hear peals of laughter?

            I recall that in my Blog of November 2015, Time Out – To Remember,  I was overwhelmed with a too-busy schedule and too many other things on my plate and on my agenda, when all I wanted to do was write my next novel. “Don’t you sometimes wish,” I unwittingly wrote,” you could stop the clocks – just for twenty-four hours – so you could catch up?” I’d become so busy with my other work, there was no time for my writing. I was thwarted by my promise to at least write during my lunch hour, realizing I didn’t have time to stop for lunch. Weekends free to write? I wish…

            So, the Covid 19 shut-down should have provided that time  – not just 24 hours –  but fifteen months to catch up. Yikes! Except that’s not what happened for so many. First was the traumatic health concern and challenges. Then came financial loss to small businesses and to those who ran or worked at those businesses and to the self-employed who relied on customers. I think the techies of the world probably made out okay. But once the external/in-person meetings, lunches, appointments, travel, shopping, et al, stopped – so many other things took over our lives.

            As for those with large families, lots of kids in need of an education, all crammed into the house for longer than a couple of days at Holiday Time. That must have been fun – or not! (Sometimes there’s an advantage to being a singleton again.) 

            On the upside, was the massive de-cluttering we all did. Very therapeutic, if time consuming. After that forced isolation went way beyond the initial thirty-days, we adjusted to our own company – which writers relish. I did eventually write – several different things, still incomplete. I did a major edit, too. So many other writers I know had the chance to try writing something totally different, venturing into different genres.

It gave everyone the chance to re-evaluate the path they had been on and ask, ‘Is this how I really want to spend my life?’

            A lot of people decided to move house – across country, some returning to their family fold, others found the place of their dreams. Some even moved across the world. Others discovered that, like us writers, they could work from home anywhere. New careers were created, less-stressful jobs accepted. Our world was topsy-turvy.

      Serendipity, the Oxford English Dictionary says, is “The faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident” Or – when you start out in one direction and fate takes you in a different direction. Sort of like Yak Shaving….  Remember Yak Shaving? It’s when you start out to do something fairly simple, but have to accomplish small steps (or annoying distractions) along the way, before you can complete your original, simple task. And so, that early morning chore is still not completed when, exhausted, you fall into bed that night and promise, “I’ll try again tomorrow…” 

            But we’re a resourceful lot, us humans. We worked through trials and tribulations.

We reinvented not only ourselves, but our lives. At times some of us felt like Sisyphus, pushing that rock uphill, only to be so close to the top when it rolls back down to the bottom and forced to start again. But we don’t give up.

            And as the world begins to open up again, we pick up the pieces of our former lives, now with clearer eyes, so we discard the bits that we no longer want – and add new ventures, new goals to our To Do lists.

            For me and many writers, we’ve missed the in-person writers’ meetings and conferences, where we meet up with old friends from all over the world, and we make new friends, new contacts. In our recent lock-down world, we stopped our instinctive human connection with others and now are gingerly learning social graces again. Do we hug, do we shake hands (That seems currently a taboo!), do we wave-from-a-distance, nod a ‘hello’ – what’s acceptable? Hey – I’m a hugger, as much as I can be these days.

A be-masked clerk at the DMV told me she was terrified of seeing people’s faces again. She didn’t know how she’d react! How sad, I thought. I can’t wait to see everyone’s smiles again. I love the unspoken language of expressions. I’m always ‘reading’ people’s faces – just as we read their body language.

            So, okay, everyone. Are we ready for this new world? Considerate and understanding of some folk’s cautious behavior, while rejoicing the exuberance of others celebrating the new freedom.   The lock-down has left many with new challenges with finances, health, mental-health issues and facing new lives, new careers. We’re putting our lives back together. All of us. It’s like writing a mystery novel, where we purposely misdirect the readers and plot red-herrings and diversions. But at the end, we writers have to tie it all together for a flourishing dénouement.

And so with our lives, this new, topsy-turvy world is waiting.

What fun. What larks, eh Pip? ***

*** In case any young ones are wondering who is Pip: It’s Pip in Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations – and this is a favorite quote of Judy Dench.

12 thoughts on “A TOPSY-TURVY LIFE….”

  1. Rosemary – you have put so eloquently into words what writers have been experiencing over the past 18 months or so. I particularly appreciate your final comment about Pip. It is true that so many of the classics are unknown by young people. One hopes they took the virus ‘vacation’ to actually do some reading of the beloved books instead of texting etc. on their iphones. Looking forward to socializing? I still enjoy being a hermit when the muse pops up.

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    1. Thanks, Jill. It’s been such an odd time, hasn’t it? Wouldn’t it be great if, as you say, the young ones had taken the opportunity to catch up on all those wonderful classics. Dickens is my favorite! And I, too, enjoy being a hermit when I’m writing…

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  2. I’m fortunate in that the pandemic hasn’t impacted my life to a great extent. I know it’s been devastating for others, financially and healthwise. Can’t say I wrote more, or less, than before. Welcome post, Rosemary.

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    1. It’s been a good time to count our blessings, too, hasn’t it? Good to hear from you again Maggie.

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  3. It does make one wonder if we are just characters in a 1984 updated novel or if we can tough it out and go on with our lives. I am trying very hard to just move on from all this nonsense and bad stuff because I would rather have a happier ending to this book. Hang in there, folks.

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  4. That’s a great way of putting it, Gayle. I do feel I’ve been in The Twilight Zone and, as you say, can’t wait to move on from all the bad stuff. Let’s create our own happy ending.

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  5. Your title caught my eye, Rosemary. Topsy-turvy is the word one of my characters uses to describe life during a time of trouble, remarkably similar to present-day. Some of us got that gift of time we thought we wanted and found it…wanting. Unlike you, my fiction languished as I wrote letter after letter of condolences. Like Jill, I did finally read some of the classics, all brilliant but dark, depressing, dystopian novels.
    Our lives have frayed for more than a year, and like Gayle, I would rather see a happy ending to this. I’ll settle for a satisfying ending, though.

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    1. Amen to that, Miko. I found ‘topsy-turvy’ very fitting for what we’ve been going through – and it’s been so exhausting, as troubled and uncertain times usually are! Well done with your classics reading – I’ve chosen more escapist, South of France, light, easy-reads to read me to sleep…

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  6. Yep, I want the “happy ending” Gayle and Miko refer to, and even though nothing much changed for us hermits, it did for some reason cause me many thoughts about the past, happy and sad times.

    Thought provoking post, Rosemary. Though I must say, right here where I am in the Mojave it’s HOT, hard to think when it’s 118…smile.

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  7. I hope your air-conditioner works! But it has been a time for looking back on ‘the good times,’ hasn’t it? Although, you’re in the perfect place for more of your Route 66 adventures… Being a hermit is a good thing, sometimes, Mad!

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  8. What a great description of the results of the pandemic and the changes it caused in our lives! Thanks for the excellent analysis.

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