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Chicago During COVID (Looking Back on a Story From 2020)

It's the small moments that matter the most in life. Reflecting upon them is imperative in making those moments last.

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A job in the city got canceled last minute so we decided to make the best of the impromptu free afternoon hoping to find the beach. Unfortunately, police are blocking all access to the water.

We still had a great time driving the empty Chicago streets with hardly any traffic, plenty of parking, and no taxis. It's a little eerie to see such a huge city so empty and quiet, but considering that and the lack of pollution, it's amazing how clear and beautiful it is; the sky, the water... I want to plan a day soon to take the kids and rent those silly bicycles or segways and take advantage of being downtown without all the anxiety of normalcy and crowds and being lost as well as my inability to parallel park.

Usually city trips (for me anyway) are almost always stressful and in a rush trying to get somewhere and then trying to get home, being in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, but today was a reminder that being a "tourist" even in your own city, regardless of how many times you've already been there, can be a new experience.

If you just stop, eliminate all of the distractions and allow yourself to just be somewhere to relish in that moment using all of your senses, you'd be surprised at the new perspective and the places and experiences you may have walked by or ignored on a regular day. If peace and beauty can be found in the heart of Chicago, it can be found anywhere.

It might sound silly but the realization of this to me was a little bit of a wakeup call. I'm always thinking about what's happened or what's going to happen, what could happen, what's never going to happen, but never actually really living in the moment and just "being".

Today I stood in the middle of an empty Michigan Avenue and just looked up and enjoyed the view. We saw things we haven't had the opportunity to really enjoy before, that we never noticed before. No sounds of taxi horns or people rushing and pushing, and without the stresses of everything, it was as if we were visiting the city again for the very first time.

It was then that I realized that THESE are the things that we need to experience now while we all have the time, so we can remember them and utilize them in our lives for when life goes back to normal.

We should all consider this time now as a restart button and consciously proceed positively with fresh new perspectives and outlooks on our every day lives. In this moment if you think about life a year from now for example, when things are back to or semi back to normal, what would you have wished you had done or kicked yourself for not doing or accomplishing while you had the time?

And not just the laundry list of things to do that have piled up because I promise you won't think about the overgrown bush in the backyard or the items you need to purge, or even how clean your floors are a year from now.

Use this time to self reflect, find your creativity and start that art project you've fantasized about for years, catch up with your friends and family and build on those relationships, take a free course offered at Harvard and Yale just because, take your dog for walks and more walks (they don't live forever), get to know your kids again on the level without schedules and stress and introduce them to something you remember you enjoyed doing when you were a child and times were more simple (these are memories they will cherish).

It's easy to focus on all the negative aspects to what's happening in the world right now and what we cannot personally control. What you can control however is how you handle it and what you do with this time. We have the power to use this situation to our advantage and the time to implement new habits, find a hidden happiness, personal reflection, and maybe even possibly creating better, more aware and more positive selves.

We more than likely aren't going to get this kind of chance ever again, and 10 years in the future when you're asked what you did during the pandemic of 2020, don't you want to have a kick ass story?

© 2022 Jessica Murphy-Doyle

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