This week, I had to go to the Mall at Short Hills, a lovely, upscale shopping mall about 25 minutes from our home, to take my iPhone in to have the battery replaced. Usually, the mall would be bustling, the week after Christmas, with people making exchanges and returns, or spending holiday money and redeeming gift cards, but it was quiet and slow. The boys had opted to come with me, just to get out of the house, because with the temperatures so frigid lately and so few places to really go, they don’t get out much.
We left at 4:35, leaving just enough time to get to the mall and walk from the car to the Apple Store. What time we would actually spend in the mall, walking around, would be the time that it took for them to change the battery in my phone, since I really don’t feel comfortable or that it’s worthwhile to browse and window shop, something we used to spend hours doing, just to have something to do on a slow day. We’d grab some lunch or maybe coffee for me and hot cocoa for the boys and people-watch, one of our favorite pastimes. For 2020, I can count on one hand, how many times we’ve been to the mall since the state of New Jersey shut down in March of this year.
After we pulled into the parking space, we checked that everyone had on their masks and that we had our hand sanitizer, even though we knew we’d be able to find dispensers throughout the mall. Check, check, check. We had all of our pandemic protection and supplies. We headed to the Apple store, just in time for my appointment. I went through their rather confusing and elaborate check-in process, which was handled by intimidating-looking men and women in security guard uniforms, instead of the usual friendly shirts with the Apple emblem, that I’m used to seeing. A glance inside the glass front of the Apple Store revealed that everything about it had changed. It looked more like the teller windows at a city bank, high plexiglass separating the employees from the customers. I was asked to slip my phone through a tiny opening in the plexiglass and watched the employee wipe it down before proceeding to run diagnostics and eventually take it to the back to have the battery changed. We were told to come back in an hour.
Walking around the mall is different these days. It’s not just the fact that everyone’s faces are covered in masks. It goes beyond that. There are the signs, asking that you not enter the stores if you are unwell, and if you do enter, you may only do so if wearing a mask. Browsing is simply not the same. Fear, precaution, and uncertainty take the fun out of it. Instead of saying, “Thank you. Have a great day,” we say, “Thank you. Stay safe.” And our concerns about staying safe, have us all looking to the future, a future in which we can go “back to normal.” It’s as if we half expect to wake up one morning, turn on the TV or see on Twitter that everything is okay now. We can let out a big sigh of relief, and go back to doing everything we used to do, the way that we used to do it. But what happens to the present, when all we do is worry and wish for a better tomorrow, so we can go back? What happens to this moment?
People have asked me to share my planner setup for 2021. But I don’t really plan to do a lot of “planning.” I want to learn to be, to be in the moment, to be present, to be at peace, to be grateful, instead of wanting something that has not yet happened or spending too much time belaboring the past. I want to be and to be aware of being, to take in that which is around me. To breathe in life and breathe it in deeply.
And then I wish to “do” life, instead of planning life. And to me, that means living life according to my values, rather than planning and setting out goals. Part of that means bringing my light into the world and using my gifts every day. If I do that, then I will be living my purpose every single day, whether I check off a box on a list or not. Perhaps, then I will plan in reverse or in the review. Perhaps I shall ask the questions, “How did I bring my light into the world? How did I use my gifts today?
I still have a few pages left in my current notebook, and I hate to waste paper, especially this paper. I am using the Kokuyo IDEA notebook in the A5 slim size in my yellow A5 Zip Organizer by The Superior Labor, and I’ve so enjoyed the tiny grid-ruled and smooth paper. So, I’ll finish all of the pages. And then, at some point in January, I will switch to my first notebook of 2021, the GRID notebook, designed by Baum-kuchen Studio and produced by Traveler’s Company. The 128 pages of grid-ruled Tomoe River paper will provide me with a good place to begin this new leg of my journey, not spending so much time planning for the future or reflecting on the past, but being present in the moment.