Veterans of Pandemic Time

A 74-year-old woman summed up pandemic time: “It limited and slowed down face-to-face interactions while speeding up progress on some projects that had lain dormant…time is precious. Using it wisely is harder when your activities are limited and your schedule falls apart.” T. S. Eliot captured such time distortions with these words: “For most of us, there is only the unattended Moment, the moment in and out of time.” You may ask, “What was Eliot trying to say?”

My take on Eliot’s message is that time feels slippery. What feels like a “long” time to one person may feel like a “short” timeframe for another. And to make matters complicated, people are not good at attending to present moments. Our nearly constant mind chit-chat ties up so much of our time that we may feel we run “out” of time on a given day.

A 71-year old man offered these timely reflections: “[The pandemic offered]…me more time for contemplation and strategic thought…I did not feel that I lost time…[lessons included] some patience, some resilience…like a repeat when I was drafted in the service, like something you were compelled to do, [it was] better to accept that than to bemoan it…the greater your gratitude, the greater your happiness.” All of us are veterans of the pandemic invisible war with its ongoing deadly strikes. The veteran make-it-through toughness with a nod to gratitude makes me think about Father Time. 

Consider the grandfatherly image of archetypal Father Time who holds a farm-harvest tool, a scythe. Greek mythology’s Cronos was a god of time, harvest, justice and fate. This pandemic season is challenging economic harvesting and our sense of justice; it is fateful for many. Father Time represents veteran journeying through life seasons and enduring whatever befalls him. In some art Father Time holds Baby New Year, a hope-filled rejuvenation possibility. However, Father Time did not have to worry about running out of baby formula for his protégé.

British detective novelist Agatha Christie explained time this way: “I have been on a journey. Not so much a journey back through the past as a journey forward—a starting again at the beginning of it all—going back to Me who was to embark on that journey forward through time.” This optimistic time-travel is another way of suggesting that we trust and embrace our essence, a core self, to lead us onward.

The essence of a pearl is embracing “what is” and growing forward. If there is a pearl to harvest in any shell, it comes out of a trauma ancestry. Pearl conception begins as a natural defense against an intruder – an irritant entering an innocent “parent” oyster or mussel shell. Today’s pandemic is an invisible irritant.   

Is there a pandemic space-time continuum? Harvest your interpretation about the meaning of time, pandemic time or otherwise. Your thoughts matter.

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

82. What has pandemic time meant for you?

83. How might you find some pandemic pearls?    

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.


  1. The Pandemic time gave me the opportunity to contemplate on how to best deal with the situation. I choose to focus on doing things in my home that had gotten neglected because I had been too busy rushing around. People complained about wanting everything back to normal. Life always has bumps in the road that we have to decide in what way we creatively choose to behave. I really appreciated the healthcare workers that stepped up to the plate to do what had to be done to care for the sick covid infected people. They gave the best healthcare that they were able to give in a very difficult time.


  2. Yes, the healthcare workers are giving their “best!”
    As you wisely point out, we have choices about how we spend our time. Many of us also have choices about what career fits us best, how to raise our children (doing our best at the time), and now we have choices about how best to navigate this pandemic time. “Best” is subjective. Hindsight reminds us over and over — there were OTHER choices!


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