An Examined Life

Socrates, the Greek philosopher, is credited with this famous quote: “An unexamined life is a life not worth living.” My apologies, Socrates, for my light interpretation of your words, but these are unusual times.

Maybe, like me, sheltering-in-place and this pandemic have caused you to examine your life. A question that often comes up is whether our jobs are essential. Mine is nonessential which makes me especially grateful to all of those workers on the front lines including the peo-ple who put my groceries or supplies like paint cans in the trunk of my car. 

Yes, I’ve been using curbside pickup. I place my order, pay by credit card, drive to the site, and a worker puts the bags in my trunk. It takes some setup and has the disadvantages of needing to wait until a time slot opens up and not being able to use my cloth bags, but overall, it’s efficient and it seems safe. 

My neighbor, a former student, kindly offered to run to the store for me if I needed. After thanking her, my teacher instincts kicked in and I instinctively offered to do the same for her. She texted back, “Ummmmmm. You’re missing the point. You are higher risk . . . trying really hard not to call you old … I’m sorry!!!! 

What! Me, old? Oh, I guess I do fit in the senior citizen risk category. Socrates must be shaking his head at me right now, but hey! It’s been a while since I took time to examine my life. 

If you’re like me, isolation has caused you to examine all you’ve taken for granted. Aside from worrying about big issues such as health and finances, I imagine you might be missing your buddies, your activities, and your barber or hairdresser. 

It’s been almost three months since I’ve gotten a haircut. After desperately examining my bangs, I called my beautician. “Let’s Zoom,” she said, “and I’ll show you how to fringe your bangs.” She set up a meeting, we connected, and I learned the technique. We parted with affec-tionate words making me examine our relationship. We were as close as sisters. No, wait, I’m too old to be her sister. I really must remember that. 

During these times, you might be examining alternate ways to connect with family and friends. My family celebrated Easter through Zoom. It wasn’t ideal, but I got to see the grand-kids, including those in California, and all fourteen of us were “together,” something that has never happened before at Easter. 

Examining how we can make our environment more pleasant is also worthwhile. I re-painted flower pots in bright colors. It not only calmed me, but gave me a feeling of accomplish-ment. I ordered seeds and can now anticipate neighbors and visitors admiring my zinnias, bach-elor buttons, and coleus in colorful flowerpots. 

Examining how you’ll prevent cabin fever is also worth our time. Try new activities such as arising early to moon gaze or taking up a new fitness sport such as jogging or yoga, or learn-ing a new skill such as playing the drums, watercolor, or learning French. I’d also suggest in-dulging. I’ve indulged in reading novels, soaking in hot baths, and snitching my husband’s deli-cious homemade oatmeal cookies. 

Many people are also examining ways to help others such as calling those they know are lonely or sending cheery cards to elderly shut-ins. Ummmmmm, elderly shut-ins. Oh my gosh, that’s me.

4 Replies to “An Examined Life”

Sue Berk Koch

No, that’s definitely not you!


Thank you, Sue, it surely isn’t you either!

Susan Twiggs

Enjoyed hearing how you are indulging, Amy. We chant mantras with Deva Premal and Miten every day. It grounds us. On Wednesday we listen to Tara Brach’s dharma talk. And reading. Just started Prairie Lotus. I love it!


Hi Susan,
I just finished Prairie Lotus. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Linda Sue Park. She critiqued a manuscript of mine once and was not only helpful but kind.

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