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As I Drive Through Empty Places

A Pandemic Soon Winds Down

Alexas_Fotos; Pixabay

As I was out and about today (with my mask and hand sanitizer) a new line of thinking had come across my thoughts. It isn’t something that I have thought much about, but as we move farther and farther from the worst part of the coronavirus pandemic, some fresh and new reality is beginning to slowly show its face.

I was driving near one of the larger shopping centers near my town in New Jersey USA. It is one of those places we all see, the kind of place that if they had 500 parking spaces, 497 of them would be full between 9am and 9pm. Of course, for the past two months, that place has been 99% empty. For some odd reason, it always fascinated me to see that emptiness at that shopping center the handful of times I have driven by it since the pandemic started.

The shopping center is filled with dozens of small business, a large grocery store, a restaurant, and of course one of those tyrannosaurus rex sized businesses, an extra wide, extra everything “fitness center.” AKA, a damn gym.

Dannfish; Pixabay

Today, as I was just about to reach that same shopping center, I remember hearing my little voice in my head say, “I assume that place is still empty, it sure has looked nice empty, it’s a shame that it’s about to be all full and congested again. No longer deserted.” It felt like a thought that was opposite of what the rest of the world would had said. I don’t want people to lose jobs, nor see businesses go out of business, but my thoughts seemed like a different sentiment.

I wonder if i am the only one like this? I have become rather embracing of these quiet, crowd free times. I have somewhat enjoyed seeing empty parking lots around town, and it has seemingly given me a feeling of peace.

The moment lead me to do a personal inventory. What I came to realize is, I have come to enjoy that sense of peace. Not loneliness, but more along the lines of being alone. After all being lonely, and being alone are two very different things. And I do say confidently that I know that life for me is longer lonely.

DDZ; Pixabay

Reaching sobriety in a way that wasn’t artificial has taught me to enjoy the silence in life, but never settle for loneliness. I’ve learned that being lonely is something that none of us should get stuck feeling. But, to get out of loneliness often requires hard work.

So, as a New Jerseyan, I have experienced the craziness of many of those kind of shopping centers. I usually don’t enjoy them, and I cringe whenever I pull into one. I been here all my life, so while I do think those places can be crazy, I am obvious hard wired at this point, to be able to be as used to it, as I’m going to get.

So as I passed by those empty places today, I do admit I felt a sense of warmth and peace come over me. I haven’t struggled during the shutdowns and the pandemic. There are some things I miss, but overall it’s been a very rare peace and quiet, that I think life needed.

I am hoping this break from the hustle and bustle has served its purpose for everyone, when it comes to using the time wisely, and for reflection. A chance to enjoy some of the simple things that our usual lives of rushing around making deadlines hasn’t afforded us.

PublicDomainPictures; Pixabay

It’s been a 4am type of quietness during these past two months. It’s about to get loud, and rushed, and hurried along as we are about to be woken by alarm clocks everyday again. I hope you took advantage of the opportunity that was presented to you. And I hope you’re not kicking yourself in the pants in a month or two, when you scold yourself saying “damn it self, why did you let all that nice peaceful time fly by, by being in a rush to have it over.”




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Michael Patanella

Michael Patanella

Author, Publisher, and Editor. I cover mindfulness, mental health, addiction, sobriety, life, and spirituality among other things.