It is 5:57 AM on Wednesday December 9th, 2020. I’m sitting in the living room and have my Amish fireplace/heater as well as electric candles turned on. I also have my Christmas ambiance on the T.V. which is showing a small pine tree decorated with lights and ornaments in a small clearing in an alpine forest covered in snow. Only the tree is lit while the trees in the background have enough light to set the stage for a very early or late evening covered with clouds.
I’m finding that the best time to write is in the early mornings. I always wake up very early, around 3 or 4, but then it becomes a matter of either getting up or just laying there until I fall asleep again. If I get up then I’ll feel sleepy around 11:00 which is no good for a busy day of work so recently sleep has been winning out. During the time I awake and until I fall asleep I find that my mind wanders from subject to subject and I get lost in those thoughts. These thoughts aren’t productive at all but every once in a while a good one will present itself and is something I’ll want to take action on.
Today I was able to get up primarily because I wanted to get a post in. I find the only time I’m really able to write is the early morning when I can have peace and quiet. The day is always filled with activity, even in this time of quarantine. One would think that by being forced to stay home you’d have a lot of free time on your hands. Perhaps you’ll have time to spend on the couch watching your favorite movies, or really make some progress with those books. For me, this hasn’t been true at all.
Work takes up most of the day and work tasks have actually become greater. In the past time was spent on the road visiting customers with the rest on the computer sending e-mails, making presentations and preparing agreements. The time on the road and face to face meetings has been replaced by virtual meetings and the time on the road replaced by a massive amount of documentation. There are also now a lot of internal meetings. Furthermore, it isn’t really possible to just go on autopilot with routines of the past. This pandemic has caused such disruption that I really need to think and uniquely prepare for every interaction with customers. Before, I could go off a template and make small variations. Now the variations are much larger and could make or break relationships so require a lot of thought.
Outside of work the kids are here all day long. Unlike many other parents I’m quite happy to have them home but your name will be called out every 10 minutes or so which makes getting a book finished or writing a post not really possible. I also want to make sure I we have time doing something together which in this day and age is Fortnite or Minecraft. I also want to make sure we all get our exercise and that takes up 2 hours or so in our home gym.
These are the major examples of how my time is spent. Again, one would think that in a pandemic and during the holidays one would have more free time but for me, that isn’t true at all. Even in my free time I have projects or things I want to accomplish; lying around doing nothing isn’t something I can do.
Switching the subject one thought I wanted to get down is the importance of finding something that brings your mind joy, wonder and excitement. When we’re young this occurs naturally as so many things are new. As an adult however life can become monotonous and devoid of that wonder and magic that makes life exciting. At 43 I’ve realized the importance of taking time to get into a hobby, get lost in a story, create a mindset that gets me excited. With fresh eyes this excitement can be used as an overlay and make life more interesting and fun.
Christmas is a good example of this and at 43 takes a little work to get into the magic. Putting up the tree and lights can seem like nothing more than another chore at this age. But I find if I can “get into it,” and take time to just sit in the stillness of early morning and appreciate it then the magic will partially return; memories of Christmases past will resurface and I’ll remember how wonderful this time of year is. It makes me happy and even more importantly I owe it to my own kids to make this time as magical as possible for them.
Two traditions I began when my oldest was just a toddler is a letter as well as a video message from Santa. The United States Postal Service pas a wonderful program where you write a letter from Santa and stick it in an envelope addressed to your child. You then put that letter in a larger envelope and send to the North Pole, Alaska. The USPS will then put a Santa postmark from the North Pole (Alaska) and mail back to you. Therefore, your child receives the letter you wrote but with an official stamp from the North Pole which makes it very believable. My oldest is now 10 so I wonder how much he believes this. Last year he said it was all “suspicious” so we shall see. The secret my son is that all of life is an incredible mystery where everyone is just as clueless as the next as to what it all means. You believe in Santa and it will be hard to let go of that. Well, adults too participate in make believe with their religions trying to make sense of everything. Yet, I still find myself looking up into the dark Christmas Eve sky looking to spot a fat elf with his reindeer streaking across the sky delivering presents. I also find myself looking at the stars contemplating this reality and universe we all find ourselves in for a short amount of time. I think that on some level and in a sense, anything can be real if we wish it to be so. We know so little, if really anything at all about the mysteries of the universe.
Even outside of the holidays, becoming excited about something, even make believe leads to real world outcomes. My love of The Hobbit and “going on an adventure” lead me to travels around the world! I use that sense of adventure even today packing up my family in a car or plane and going somewhere new. The last big adventure was simply to have fun in the pools in Las Vegas then go to Death Valley. Adventures can be close to home as well and just a few days ago we had an “adventure” in the back yard looking for animal tracks, bugs and anything else of interest. The sense of adventure also has Santa bringing us a metal detector so we can comb the beach for treasure. We’ll also be jumping into the ocean with our wetsuits and boogie boards which is also due to that sense of adventure.
My point in all this is that life can be kept magical and exciting by finding something which excites you and applying it to life. Another example of this is the effect video games has had on my family. We all like games (even the wife with Animal Crossing) but how could I best apply this passion to all our benefit? Well, in a pandemic having social interaction through games is an enormous benefit which my kids can do through Fortnite and Minecraft. These are social games and they are always chatting with their buddies. For Minecraft I also created our own world on my own server for family and friends to build something special. My kids and I not only make castles but also holiday lands and have done Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas areas. These are fun to do all together, a modern version of sitting around a board game as a family in the 80s. We’re making our own world that, perhaps, will keep expanding as the kids grow older and I can keep forever.
The final example of how video games are making a positive impact on our life is a big one and something that just occurred to me recently. I decided to put a TV in the gym not to watch TV but to hook up the Nintendo Switch. The Switch is getting into exercise games and we currently have the Jump Rope Challenge, Just Dance 2021 as well as Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise. I thought that we really needed more cardio options than just the elliptical or doing aerobics on YouTube once every great while. By combining gaming with exercise I think we would all be much more likely to get our bodies moving on a regular basis. Santa is also bringing the Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure to further add to our library of options. By putting the TV/Switch in the gym we’re in an environment that is created for exercise but also puts one in the mindset to actually do exercise. I find that by being in the right environment I have more motivation. Exercising in the living room isn’t very appealing to me but going to my exercise area is something I look forward to. We’ve had the TV set up in the gym and done a few days of these games. I find my body is sore in ways it wasn’t by just doing karate and the elliptical. In karate you do get an incredible workout in but the cardio is only for a few brief periods and involves punching and kicking; the elliptical is also great exercise but the same movement. The Jump Rope Challenge has my calves burning and I like the constant motion of the boxing game. Finally, Just Dance is a lot of FUN! Your body is moving all over the place and nothing is repetitious. By moving your body to favorite music you really enjoy the exercise instead of it being something you’re just trying to get through. The Switch exercise isn’t perfect but it is a wonderful addition to our weightlifting, karate and elliptical.
Well, the time is now 6:58 and my precious early morning time has come to an end. The house will awake and I need to be working by 8:00 AM on the dot to prepare for all I need to accomplish today. I’m glad I got this post in and hopefully will make myself get out of bed a bit earlier this Christmas season. There is still much I’d like to write about in order to capture what my life is like during this strange year. I also hope work/activities will slow down so I have time to reflect and really appreciate this time of year.