17 Steps

By Sarah Haug

We went to Mexico and got Covid. The people there were very nice about it, but my husband, son, and I had to quarantine for five days in a space half the size of my living room at home, albeit with a balcony that allowed us to see the sun.

As the door to that room closed behind me, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it. I am an antsy person, always up and about, doing things all day long. That last day of quarantine, I walked over fourteen thousand steps, seventeen paces at a time, which was the distance from the door to the balcony. The fact that my husband and I are still married and our son continues to speak to us probably means we can put the end result in the win column.

That said, this week I wanted to share a few things I learned from the experience:

Detachment: Detachment means to “appreciate without attaching ourselves to the things of this world.” It isn’t that we don’t care, but rather that we don’t allow our material experience to control us, and we accept what can’t be changed. Stuck in that room, unable to leave until 120 hours had passed, detachment was probably the most important thing we all had to achieve. We could complain, or we could get on with living those hours the best we could. Kind of like life.

Gratitude: As it turns out, we had a great deal to be grateful for, even in quarantine life: we weren’t sick; we had plenty of food to eat and work to do, since we’d brought our laptops to Mexico; our friends, with whom we’d traveled but who did not test positive, played hearts over Zoom with us from their home in Minnesota; our children called to check in; we watched the sun set each evening over the Pacific.

Things definitely could have been worse.

Empathy: Millions of people, whole nations, in fact, have been made to quarantine for far longer and under far worse conditions than we experienced. In some countries, fourteen-day quarantines just for being exposed to someone with Covid have been the norm. Most didn’t have a room overlooking the ocean to do it in either. When our quarantine was over, we found it unexpectedly hard to leaveour safe cocoon, to talkto people and navigate the world. Millions of people might be feeling the same way right about now.

Quarantining isn’t something I ever want to do again, but I’m glad to know I have what it takes.

Fourteen thousand steps. Seventeen paces at a time.

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