Coffee with Mimi: How do you fill your calendar? 

Published 6:04 pm Friday, March 27, 2020


Community columnist

We are a culture driven by schedules. There are schedules for work and school, sporting events and social gatherings. We mark our family lives by the dates we gather and celebrate. Events are important for us as individuals and as communities.

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We have created multiple methods to track our numerous engagements. I rely on the old fashioned, time-honored, traditional paper calendar. I’m somewhat particular. My calendar has a monthly page separating the sections of weekly pages for each month. During the current month, I work off the weekly pages. All the while, I consult the monthly pages of the future months and enter future events on those pages. On the last day of the current month, I transfer events in the next month to the appropriate days of the following month. I generally feel helpless and out of sorts without my paper calendar in my possession.  

In the meantime, I manage the calendar for the activities of my organization. Some of these activities are subsequently entered into the electronic calendar of a shared meeting space. Admittedly, I do not further consult the electronic calendar as a reminder of my daily activities. However, the calendar is synced to my cell phone and I receive a gentle nudge when the screen lights up. I am already where I am supposed to be, no warning required. Paper-calendar referenced hours ahead of the event!

We are a culture driven by schedules and days and times. There is comfort in the calendar. Plenty of things to do and people to see. But now, every activity on my calendar is wiped off for several weeks with no idea when long planned and special events will resume. 

I researched stories of various individuals who chose for various reasons to isolate themselves from society. Their decisions to live as hermits were as varied as the individuals themselves.  Some, as were the subjects of the stories I read in my early education, made the decision based on religious convictions. The world was just too worldly. Others, as I have learned, were avoiding consequences of some behavior such as murder. Still others were perhaps not able to cope with the stresses of living in a community.

These folks all seemed to meet their daily needs of food and shelter in one fashion or another. I suppose they made compromises, otherwise they wouldn’t have lived such long lives, as many of them did. Time was of no consequence, there were no obligations. They spent their days immersed in their own thoughts.

There are days when this self-imposed, solitary existence has some appeal. There are times when I open the paper calendar and there is absolutely nothing written on it for the day, or maybe a whole weekend.  Perhaps I am absolutely alone due to my husband’s schedule. I relish the experience. I read what I want, watch whatever I fancy. I eat cereal for dinner.

As the day progresses, however, I find myself reaching out to those around the corner, connecting to family, making plans to go out. Solitary life loses its appeal rather quickly. The novelty wears off. The urge to fill in the blanks on the calendar creeps in.

So here we are. Days and weeks stretch ahead with empty pages in front of us. I’m one of the lucky ones.  None of my loved ones are ill and I am healthy. I am not alone in my home.

I spent a few days trying to wrap my head around the situation. Time seems to stand still. It is somewhat like being in the hospital. You lose a sense of reality. The room, the people around you, the routine, are the same day and night, over and over. You need a reminder to know what day it is. 

My mom considers sitting on her front porch a civic duty. That is never more true than this moment.  There is a distance between the porch and the sidewalk. A view and wave to passersby reminds us that we are not alone. Front porches have become a method of sharing. A neighbor needs a gallon of milk or a book. We leave it on the front porch. Everyone is safe.

Thank goodness for email, cell phones and (selective) social media. We can stay connected and see those we know or are getting to know. Projects and causes can be promoted and action taken. Information can be shared. We are a society that thrives on interaction.  

At first, during this unexpected halt to my life as I have constructed it, I looked at all the half- finished or desired projects in my house and garden. The list is lengthy. Some are chores I keep putting off; citing a too busy schedule. Some are wish list items; things to do if I ever have time. Well, I am definitely not too busy.  

I thought about the list with optimism. I will be creative, etc., etc. For a few days that was the plan. But, there are concerns more important than my list.  This may be the time to look carefully at how we fill our calendars.