“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?”
Those are the words that greet me in the morning – one of the many songs I use as alarms so that I gently ease myself awake. (I dislike abrupt awakenings – likely a remnant of my days as a student, resident, solo private practice physician and then a hospitalist – those darn beepers/alarms.)
So naturally, as I ease myself into consciousness I sing this song, “Seasons of Love” (Jonathan Larson’s theme song for his 1996 Broadway musical “Rent”).
It’s about how to measure a year in the life of someone.
And I started thinking about all that has happened in the past one year for myself and others. Summer 2019 most of us were clueless to what Summer 2020 would look like.
In the past one year some have been diagnosed with life changing illnesses. Others have succumbed to COVID-19 leaving loved ones baffled. Those that survived may now have a chronic illness.
The acknowledgment of racism by many stirred people to openly express their views leading to some very uncomfortable but necessary conversations. Many of those who lived through the same discussion decades ago marveled at the thought that they would be having the same discussions in 2020.
The youth – especially those who were rising seniors in 2019 (high school and college) could never have imagined their last months with classmates being done in a virtual space. Proms, senior trips, graduation ceremonies were either cancelled or reimagined.
Drive-by birthday parties and celebrations became the norm. A trail of cars with balloons and signs as friends and loved ones drove by homes or parking lots to acknowledge special days.
Virtual meetings, lectures, get togethers and parties became routine via platforms such as zoom, webex and teams. (The fact that non-techies know what this is shows how much has changed.)
Us older folks found out about social media platforms such as TikTok (a sacred haven for the younger folks) and some parents/grandparents made it a mission to outdo their kids/grandkids with the number of likes and follows. (I myself was blocked by my 17 yr old daughter who said it was “creepy” for me to “like” her posts.)
Who knew that one of my screening questions for patients would be “Have you been outside New York state in the last two weeks?”
That delivery services like Amazon and UberEats would be my go to tools making life a bit more comfortable (when items available).
Jobs lost, businesses closed, fear of how to financially survive in uncertain times.
Global relationships between countries changing almost daily. Allies and enemies vary depending on the month.
And through it all- we still need to handle our day to day events.
Which can be exhausting.
Think of it.
What has happened for you in the last 365 days? 8760 hours? 525,600 minutes?
How will you measure your past year?
“In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?”
Larson concludes that we measure a year in someone’s life by moments of love.
Spending time with my teens (even though they arise at noon).
Daily discussions via WhatsApp with my siblings, mom and sister-in-law.
Frequent conversations with my close friends, especially my BFF/sister friend.
Being grateful for a moment in the sun or the sound of a light rain shower.
Watching the dogs run amok outdoors.
Random moments of peaceful silence.
Waking up each morning.
If I choose to measure this past year in moments of love- its actually not been so bad.