Summer of 2020

The summer of 2020 went by fast. I looked at the desk next to my bed, there was a yellow book and 3 playing cards, three aces. I was trying to finish this book for my work for the past few months, but the reading went slowly. It was a long summer that went by fast. I was feeling melancholic and bored.

It was probably the lack of physical exercise, of challenges, the lack of seeing people, and now the smoke. The fires have started in California about a week ago, right when I took a week vacation to go hiking to Lassen with the kids. We had to cut our trip short and turn back home after day one. Heavy smoke from fires was all over Lassen and I still remembered how hard it was to breath there. The skies were yellow, the sun orange or red, and the ashes felt over the tent, the car, and the food while we ate it. The rest of the vacations we spent enclosed in our apartment, since the air outside was unhealthy. It was still hot, we were still  in covid and not seeing people. I tried to study or to read but would turn to screen of my laptop or phone all the time reading news or watching snippets of funny videos. The vacation week was wasted.

Overall we were doing well. While the country was suffering from unemployment and covid, I was lucky to have a good job, which I loved and that was meaningful. We were healthy and kids were good kids. Since this summer we weren’t able to go to Spain to see my parents (Europe didn’t admit Americans because of covid), my parents organized math and Russian classes for the kids almost daily, which took the kids away from video games and built a better relationship with their grandparents. We also took up hiking and doing difficult trails with elevation above our skills. I got us a tent and tons of camping and hiking equipment and we got good at setting our basecamp. On our escape from Lassen we packed our basecamp in 31 minutes, which I consider a record for the three of us.

When covid started I was in an uplifted spirit suddenly having so much extra time on my hands. However, this was all gone now. I still had the time, but the spirit disappeared. Most of the days I woke up early, meditated, made breakfast for the kids and myself and moved to my desk to work. I didn’t do almost anything else during my week except work. Lack of challenging exercise, lack of seeing people, too much screen time, and sitting at my desk had negative consequences. In August I have been wandering around the house without any motivation. I didn’t feel like myself. In my free hours I moved between my books (mostly on cosmology or science fiction), a mars rover model that I was starting to build as a hobby project, my data science classes that I took online for my work, and my startup that has been limping for the past few months because I have hit yet another wall.

I felt tired. After doing the grocery shopping this morning and breathing in a portion of smoky air, I sat on my bed with the book. I barely read one page. There were 3 aces on my bed, my son left them there earlier. I took the aces. I looked at them and started thinking about green pastures, horses, mountains. About fresh air. About courageous and strong men. About how beautiful and strong I could be. And I thought about running away from the Bay Area, somewhere else, another country may be. Because I thought the life was short and we will all die too soon. What’s the point of living tired? But I didn’t do anything. I needed time to understand how things really were, and not how I felt that they were. How objective can one be about what one lives? And if there is one card missing?