My energy level has been like the weather lately.
One day I feel sunny and full of energy and the next day, I feel weighed down by cloudiness and torrential rain.
It’s probably not that dramatic but I am paying attention to the ebbs and flows of my moods. Not in a way of judging myself but with an awareness of the toll of this suspension time. It does feel as if we are in the center of a suspension bridge, each side is anchored, we are in the middle taking sure steps as well as shaky ones and sometimes a gust of wind or passing traffic gets too close and threatens to send us flying.
I am realizing when days are stacked with sameness, weariness creeps in. It doesn’t take a monumental shift to create a lift in mood. It can be as simple as doing or seeing something different across the perpetual landscape of your life.
Fridays are pizza night and we each made our own personal pizzas. Caleb was last to take his pizza from the oven to cool and left the house to take care of our neighbors’ cats. He came through the front door a minute later surprising us with the speed of his caretaking.
He said, “Guys, you gotta come see this!”
Carl and I left our chairs and walked down the block in socks and slippers and started to hear guitar music. Neighbors were spread out along the block before ours listening, clapping, and dancing to a mariachi band. New neighbors were celebrating their marriage, a new home, and workers all over the world. A table was full of party favors of coffee, cupcakes, and small bags of toilet paper rolls and hand sanitizer. Carl and I went back into our house to get our masks and shoes for him. We loved chatting with our new and old neighbors who live so close to us but feel miles away as well. Once we returned to our pizzas, grins dotted our faces and our spirits were buoyed.
I had a similar buoyant feeling when I recently hosted a silent book club* via Zoom.
Have you ever heard of a silent book club?
Silent book clubs turn the traditional book club format upside down.
Silent book clubs gather together for a set time to read silently a book of choice then each member discusses the book they are reading.
I had always thought this idea might avoid some of the potential book club pitfalls but I tucked it away for another time. Until I spotted this article about what silent book club groups were doing in light of the pandemic. ZOOM. I immediately sent the article to my mother and daughters and each one was intrigued and interested.
Two Saturdays ago, I hosted my first silent book club over Zoom.
There were 6 book lovers in attendance. Each one of us brought a book to read silently for 30 minutes. Some read on their phone, e-reader, or from physical books. We didn’t all know one another so after quick introductions, we held up the books we would be reading. The genres were varied as were the reason for each selection.
- Starting a new book
- Giving a novel written in verse a second try
- The next book in a juicy series
- One of many books currently reading
- A book almost finished
- A library book that one day will need to be returned
We set a timer, muted our microphones, and read for half an hour. Our meeting time was during the lunch hour and people were free to munch and sip while reading. After time was up, we talked about our books which garnered additional discussions and questions. We talked about how our reading life had been affected by this stay-at-home time period. We batted around the question of whether audiobooks count as reading. We gave each other book suggestions. We chatted about how many pages to give a book before setting aside. We all agreed to meet again soon.
After the book club was over, I was energized for the rest of the day. There is a kinship created when sharing a passion. This video chat wasn’t about solving a work problem or recounting a litany of the redundancy of a day, it allowed each one of us to step outside the noise of a week, even the quiet of our neighborhoods and cities can feel loud, beautiful at times, but still loud. We were able to carve a tiny space to welcome a beloved pastime. There was something uniting about sitting in silence together while doing a loved activity.
If you are not a book lover, this might seem like the most insane or, as someone in my home may have said, a lame idea. But I think you could gather across screens around any type of passion.
You could knit with someone and discuss your creations.
You could set your screen to show the length of your table and work on puzzles together.
You could gather a bouquet of flowers from your yard and share what blooming, what seeds you plan to plant, what vegetables you dream of harvesting. Or give a virtual tour of your yard.
Have a set of photos printed in advance to put in a photo album and play “show and tell” during the process of documenting life.
Gather the ingredients, prop up a phone, and make the same recipe together.
Songwriters share your songs with each other, poets whisper your poems.
Unfold your easels and paint together.
Our family watches Survivor together in 3 different locations but we are united in debating whose torch will be snuffed out each week.
How can you celebrate and share your passions?
Find one way this week.
May you encounter your neighbors this week in meaningful ways.
May you recognize any passion you have silenced during this shuttered away time.
May you seek connection with a fellow lover of what sets your soul ablaze.
May you be gentle and kind to yourself on days when your energy is depleted.
*silent book clubs may be an introvert’s dream, however, our group was a mixture of introverts and extroverts and I think it made the perfect combination!