We are in the grip of a worldwide pandemic, many locations are in lockdown, and we’re all suffering from restrictions on personal freedom and movement. Yet I’ve crossed the Atlantic three times in as many months and I find it ironic that I’ve done more traveling in the time of Covid than I normally did before.
I didn’t plan it this way. You know I love me some drama and escalating conflict in the stories I read and write, but I prefer it on the page—not in my personal affairs. I write this as I sit in my cold and empty house in Germany, isolated in quarantine—without groceries, cookware, or much in the way of bedding or furniture. Living, not by choice, an ascetic lifestyle.
I made this most recent trans-Atlantic voyage to attend my father-in-law’s funeral. His sudden death due to Covid came as a shock and has yet to really sink in. He was a remarkable and kind man who will be greatly missed by many. There is, as usual, a silver lining to this heartrending cloud in that we were able to spend a wonderful and unexpected week with family.
That’s how it happens in the movies
In books and movies, the characters encounter challenges and make plans to overcome them. And then the plan goes wrong. It must, in order for the hero to learn, grow, and triumph over personal flaws. I remind myself of this as I am slammed by one complication followed by another. And another. And another.
We planned to move to Germany and make use of the car there we already own. No—because of Covid restrictions, every step of the process required making an appointment and waiting days or weeks. We ended up renting a car for two months while working through the unbelievable tangle of red tape.
We found a house and took possession of the key, planning to be comfortable with loaner items until our household goods arrived. Stymied again by Covid, as well as holiday closures and snow conditions, we’ve scrounged up two blankets, a pot, a pan, and a few pieces of cutlery. The pump went out in the heating system and the former occupants apparently kept cats. I’m allergic.
Death in the family, funeral, and back to Germany for another period of quarantine. Before leaving, I made plans for a friend to bring groceries when we got back since we can’t leave the house for ten days. However, with snowstorms shutting down roads and businesses, including local markets, the grocery run will have to wait. Fortunately, we have a bag of rice and some instant oatmeal. I spoon up the gloopy mess as I watch men and large machinery dig up the street outside the house, almost obscured by falling snow. Major pipe damage.
It helps a little
These are just a few of the recent bumps in the road of my life. Your road has them too, I know, so you can relate to what I’m saying. And I don’t mean this by way of complaint, but more as a philosophical wonderment.
I can smile about these things now and I’m sure I’ll laugh about them later. It really does help to remind myself that conflicts come in life as they do in story—to allow us opportunities to stretch, grow, and strengthen. There’s a lot to be learned from the curve balls life throws at us, and I’m trying to be a good student.
How about you? Have you noticed how best-laid plans go awry? What lessons have the bumps on your road taught you? Share with us in the comments.