Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Pandemic Pause: A Writer Muses Time and Choices

Fall has always been a harbinger of new beginnings, a fresh slate. Schools reopen, churches return to normal services, community craft fairs and fundraisers abound. But this is pandemic life and for many of us this fall portends a continuation of staying home and limiting travel and activities. What to do with all this newfound time? As J.R.R. Tolkien wrote: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." In this post, writer Marilyn Gilpin muses her choices when the 'cosmic pause button' is pressed. Please welcome Marilyn back to the Women's Writing Circle.


There have been times in my life when I wished for a “pause” button. Even before there was such a thing. Sometimes, I felt overwhelmed by life, responsibilities, deadlines. I needed time to catch up. 

This was especially true in college. There were always papers to write. Projects to complete. Rehearsals, exams, classes, campus job. There was never a moment when nothing was due. I wanted to stop the world for a little while until I finished a few things. I pleaded with the universe:

“Just let me finish this report before I get a new assignment.”

“Just let me memorize my lines before the next rehearsal.”

“Just let me pass this test before I have to start on that project.” 

After college, there were other pressing matters. Work always got in the way of the important stuff. I have several bookcases filled with hundreds of books that I haven’t read. When will I ever get the time?

Many years ago, I started a list of films that I missed when they were in the theatre that I hoped to catch when they came on television. That list is now a dozen pages long. How will I ever see them all?

Suddenly, the cosmic pause button is pressed.




I cancel all vacations, trips, theatre and concert tickets, outings, luncheons. I can’t go anywhere. 

The world has stopped. There are no appointments, no deadlines.




I should be thrilled, right?

Well, yes I am.

But I am overwhelmed again. Too much free time. Too many choices.

Which of my 639 books to read first?

Which of 297 films on my list to watch tonight?

The cosmic voice says: JUST PICK ONE!

What are you choosing now that time is on your hands?

Marilyn Gilpin has been an avid reader and writer for as long as she can remember. Some of her pieces have been published in The New Sweetwater Reporter, the newsletter for East Nantmeal Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She is a passionate gardener, theatre lover, and student of piano and has contributed to numerous Women's Writing Circle read arounds. So far, Marilyn has made some progress on her lists: she has watched Hidden Figures, and her reading has included two classics – East of Eden (John Steinbeck) and A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving). Contemporary works include Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and A Marriage Story by novelist Tayari Jones. She lives in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania with her husband, Michael, his many guitars and their four cocker spaniels. 

(Photos courtesy of Marilyn Gilpin.)

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