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Being, Not Just Doing

It seems that it was just a few weeks ago that we were going about our normal lives. (It was.) We jumped out of bed; hurried to get the kids off to school; rushed to work; put in our full-time plus; hurried home to get the kids; get them fed and off to their extracurricular activities, maybe had a bit of down time then but most likely grocery shopped or returned emails; rushed the kids home to get their homework done and off to bed and late to bed ourselves, only to get up and do it again as if it were Ground Hog Day.

Then, sheltering in place, quarantine, stay-at-home hit and we suddenly found ourselves far less immersed, far, far less active than we had been, just the day before.

No more hanging out with friends. No more community to congregate with. No more gathering with tens of thousands to absorb yourself in a sporting event. Not even the opportunity to join the throngs of shoppers, sometimes shoulder to shoulder at what is probably, truly our national pass-time.

Just staying at home. With the immediate family. Stuck.

For me it means no more international travel on my Hague cases with weeks spent away. No more late nights at the office finishing up a massive brief. No more protracted days spent in trial and long nights preparing for the next day's witnesses.  I became a home-body overnight.

When we are forced from our daily grind, when we are no longer able to do, do, do, we are learning what it might mean just to be. Be with each other (kids actually spending time with their parents because they've finally run out of options). And be with ourselves. Our quarantine has pushed us toward the isolation of monks. We finally have the enviable opportunity to just sit, to just reflect, to just be with ourselves.

For me, my garage is no cleaner than when The Firm shifted into remote work only, back on March 16, but I've been home to watch Spring resolve into full bloom. I've been here to watch the azalea buds form, fill and burst into full glory. I've been here to witness the stark limbs of winter rejoice into their full green foliage. I've been here every day, sun up to sun down, to watch the earth wake up, yawn and begin to sing with joy.

I've been here to watch my son discover and develop his love of drawing (thanks to his girlfriend's encouragement). I've been here to enjoy my wife's excellent cooking and have dinner with the fam pretty much every evening of the week. I've been here for the three of us to sit around in the living room at night, talking about much of nothing, but blessedly whiling our hours away - together.

Today, Easter, I would have been home anyway, but there is something particularly focused about coming together with the same immediate family with whom we've been isolated all this time. Instead of the gathering of the larger family and friends being much of the thing, it is like placing the angel on the tree, the topper of this corona-season.

Of course, this is not the end of the season, but I am hoping that today will be a passage-like opportunity for us to mark the occasion and deepen our practice of just being.

Here's to hoping that when we come out of this, we will come out so much wiser than we were when we were forced in.

Michael Manely

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