"Monday 5 Things" with D. Paul Graham

.....Of M's.....


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Photo: D. Paul Graham

Monday 5 Things…..Of M’s…..

Whether taking spirited or at times somewhat slower drives, sitting at home, or on a park bench, this morning’s M5T is a culmination of thoughts I’ve had while reflecting on the speed at which change has occurred in two short months. Today I simple want to wish you all a good Monday morning and a week of positivity and peace with the following M’s.

1. March.

Almost 2 months ago, on March 11th to be exact, our world in North America changed when a worldwide pandemic was confirmed. Within 24 hours, employees were told to stay home, the stock market took a breath-taking plummet and sporting events started to be cancelled. Toilet paper disappeared from the shelves. I watched, amazed, at Sam’s Club as people were arguing over a diminishing stack of TP. It was surreal. Travel was cancelled. Sanitizer vanished. A new fear entered our psyche. Self-quarantine, social distancing, respirators, home office, and Zoom became more than vernacular; they became a new paradigm for our way of life. Literally life for some. Conspiracy theories proliferated. Yesterday, the ketchup shelf at my local grocery store had one bottle left on three empty shelves. The sign said a limit of two per shopper. I had two thoughts: Why ketchup? Why not mustard? I don’t think I’m alone in asking ‘why’ about a lot of things lately.  

2. Muggled and Mastered.

Harry Potter says that a muggle is a person who does not have magical powers. The Oxford Dictionary says a muggle is a person who is not conversant with a particular activity or skill. A month and a half ago, I set some rather grandiose plans for a number of items that I’ve wanted to learn, start, or complete. It dawned on me this weekend that I am in fact a muggle with a large part of my list. I have not used this time of social distancing to learn French, Mandarin or Swahili. I admit that I haven’t re-read ‘War and Peace’. I have not exercised as much as I planned. Ok. I haven’t really worked out. At all. I have however mastered and developed new activities and skills. If I do say so myself, my breakfast burritos can be described as magical. I have mastered the ten second advance on Netflix, saving me countless hours binging. You think I jest? The ‘things’ I wanted to do have taken a back seat to a more insightful use of this solitary time. I have taken more time to pray for those who are and have been in my life. And surprisingly, have found more time to pray for those that have hurt me. I have accepted that I can just “be” and not be consumed by what Saint-Exupery called “matters of consequence”. I have slept longer, thought deeper, and discovered a profound level of peace from past violence and betrayal from others in my life that I could not have imagined two months ago. I am looking at how I spend my time in an entirely different way than ever before in my life.

3. Masks.

I’ve been working hard in my life to remove metaphorical masks that hide who I really am. Now we are being told to literally wear masks. The masks we wear today symbolize a recognition of what’s essential, not only for the health of ourselves but for the health of those around us. In Romeo and Juliet, masks got the Montagues got into the ball without being exposed as enemies. Most superhero’s wear masks to hide their identities. Today, a mask is a statement and a decision. A mask can hide a lot of things, a mask may protect us from a killer virus, but it can’t stop one thing; even though you can’t see someone smiling behind a mask, you can still see that smile in their eyes, for which, I am thankful.

4. Methods.

Our routines have radically changed in less than two months. The ways in which we manage and measure short-term and long-term goals have been altered and transformed. Our productivity has required adapting to a new environment. How often have we heard or said, “I don’t like to bring my work home with me.” Now our home is our office. We see our neighbors in a new light. Until this past month, I never noticed that one of my neighbors takes his cat out for a walk every night. On a leash. And it doesn’t seem weird anymore. Social norms and sophistication are now reinforcing our responsibilities to our communities of family, faith and work. Our routines, our methods, are not the same routines they were two months ago.

5. Me.

At base, we are all selfish. But for many, these past two months have served as time to take a hard look at who we are, how we identify ourselves, and where we spend our time. I’ve talked with a number of married friends to see how they are making out during this time of ‘house arrest’. Most have said that they are renewing their relationships for the better with their spouses and their kids. Few have said this time has only deepened problems and hurts, and that the marriage likely won’t survive. One good friend said being at home with his wife has made him realize how much of an a** (his words were actually stronger) he has been in their marriage.  He has already started to make changes in how he communicates with his wife. My friends who live alone, by and large, have embraced this forced solitued, but are ready to get back into the world. These past two months have showed us the importance of realizing where we place our faith, what we can be certain of and what exactly we can control. What we are uncertain of, fearful of, and what we can’t control needs to be released with humility, grace and a desire to be a better, stronger person. These past two months have provided opportunities to be compassionate to others and to ourselves. It has been a ‘time out’ to realize that understanding is not enough to make changes. To make real change in our lives we need to plan. And then take bold steps forward with those plans. No matter what the next two months may bring.

Here’s to a week of the “M’s” in your life as cities and businesses start to try and function again. And, to those friends of mine who have lost loved ones to COVID, please know that any light-hearted comments here this morning in no way are meant to slight or lessen the loss and pain that you are feeling. You have been, and will continue to be, in my prayers.

© 2020 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved.

D. Paul Graham is passionate about people, culture, photography and business. He has embraced his wanderlust with his travels around the globe and is at peace with his need for spirited drives in all things automotive.

You can find M5T each Monday here on www.southmag.com and by friending D. Paul Graham on Facebook. Paul is also a contributing photographer to South Magazine. His photographic work can be found on Instagram @dpgraham and at www.imageGRAHAM.com . Your feedback is always welcome. Email Paul at dpg@imagegraham.com