If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that the patterns of our lives—the reliable and newly familiar—are constantly in flux.
Since January, I have found myself revisiting familiar patterns. Dinners with friends, meeting new residents and learning what has brought them to our community, and special celebrations have eased their way back into my life. While some of the new openings in my life have retracted since COVID rates have increased, here was a moment in which the sharing of physical space had supplanted many virtual meetings and Zoom screen interactions.
In fact, after a two-year pause, my husband, Mike, and I are even back to training for our annual bicycle ride across Iowa, RAGBRAI, in July. I am grateful to have been able to maintain connections with friends and family members through new and ever-improving technology; however, the rhythms of our traditions, now that I’ve been reacquainted with them, are a drum beat that is louder – and more important to me – than ever.
Last month I reunited with my siblings – Scott, Steve and Barb – for the first time without any spouses or children since our mom passed in 2014. We visited Lake Geneva north of Chicago for a long weekend. Each of us resumed long-familiar roles – the organizer, the caretaker, the jokester, the questioner. I’ll let you guess who’s who. While we have each inevitably changed over our lifetimes, we realized that how we take care of one another holds constant.
This rare, precious time with family reminded me that we begin to build our family legacies early in life. While we all evolve and fine tune who we are over our lifetimes, we are connected to each other with ties that bind us as we move through the decades of our lives. Our traditions and shared memories connect us to the people we trust and offer a bridge to welcome new friends into our lives.
As we head into the summer months with their longer daylight hours, I look forward to having more time to savor simple pleasures. I plan to use the gift of time to reflect on how my siblings have made a difference in my life. I want to find ways to share the gifts they have given me – their humor, their joy, their tenacity – with others who may never meet my sister and brothers, but who will be able to know a small piece of them through interactions with me. In this way, we carry on the legacies of other peoples’ lives, so that their mark on the world is amplified.
If you have the opportunity to spend some time in reflection this summer, please consider who has shaped your life, and what qualities of theirs you most admire. Take time to think about the ways in which you are a conduit of the admirable qualities of your peers and loved ones. I would love to know about them and what they have brought to you during different passages. Sharing the best of another’s spirit is something that is always in season.