Yesterday was weird and heavy.
Homicide, loss of life, fire arm, autopsy. Gun control, law enforcement, prosecutor, defendant. Over the course of 3 hours I must’ve heard these words hundreds of times. My first time being summoned for jury duty. True to form, the pandemic made an already exhausting process even more challenging.
This stage of the jury selection process was done via zoom with about 20 other potential jurors. Cameras were required to remain active during the entire meeting, which meant that during the intensive group interview, we had to stare at each other’s living rooms and outer space zoom backgrounds. Occasionally, when someone unmuted their audio to answer a question the entire group could hear “meows” and random background noises.
“Juror #25, you mentioned in your questionnaire that you had strong feelings about police officers. Can you expand on that?”
….“Yes, from personal experience I have found poli— [dialogue in the distant background: I’m going to Costco later, do you need anything?]….”
The format took away some of the gravity and formality. It was hard to concentrate. I caught a glimpse of myself slouching and resting my head in my hands and immediately corrected my posture/mindset. This was serious. This court deserves my undivided attention.
The process lasted about 3 hours but I did my best to stay alert. I listened as dozens of us elaborated on our answers from the questionnaire we were required to fill out days ago. One of the questions, “have you ever witnessed or been a victim of a criminal offense,” yielded some hard-to-hear answers. “Average” people with tragic, heartbreaking stories. Myself included.
Yesterday was weird and heavy.
I ended up being dismissed from the selection process. But I came *this close* to having to spend the next several weeks sitting in a courtroom from 9am-4pm Monday thru Thursday. March would have looked a lot differently.
Life changes quickly without warning. The fun part is, tomorrow I could win the lottery or meet some new friends, or change someone’s life. Or, one minute I might be complaining about the dirty dishes, then the next minute be summoned for jury duty. Tomorrow I could break my leg. Tomorrow’s headlines might be even more frightening than they are today. Who knows.
The not-knowing is what got me thinking. I started connecting the dots between “life moves fast,” “life is unpredictable,” until I got to “what am I doing with my life?” …Which, first of all, is a terrible question. It’s narrow-minded, kinda selfish, not to mention how paralyzing and overwhelming. Second, it’s guaranteed to send me into an existential crisis every time I dwell on it
too much at all.
A better question I’ve learned to ask is: what should I be doing right now?
“Instead of asking what am I doing with my life, ask what should I be doing while I’m waiting in this line?*”
…or stuck in traffic?
…or listening to juror #43’s loud cat?
…or washing the dishes?
Another way of putting it, is “what at this moment, am I meant to do/learn/know?**” or “what can I give?”
* I heard/read this somewhere. I think Derek Sivers said it but I’m 100% sure
** “Instead of asking “what can I know?” Ask yourself “What, at this moment, am I meant to know.” —The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays, W.H. Auden)
Yesterday was weird and heavy but it had good grief too. I needed that.
Because over time my posture towards life begins to lean towards worrying about ‘all the things’ and/or grumbling about the dirty dishes and/or believing life ‘owes’ me this or that, among other bad attitudes. Or…I flip on the “yolo” switch and do too much too soon.
But yesterday’s weird and heavy experience, along with narrowly avoiding jury duty on an intense case, recalibrated my mindset. It came along and whispered, “pay attention, sit up straight, don’t miss out….” “…Don’t worry, don’t rush, don’t grumble. Be present. Enjoy it.”
Who knows what’s around the corner.
The only guarantee is this moment.
So what should I do with it then?
My general answer is to:
Be gracious and generous
…towards myself and others.
Find something good each day and point at it.
A few of yesterday’s answers:
Give the court my undivided attention, and answer their questions truthfully.
Eat a few oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Take myself on a leisurely walk with no destination or headphones.
A few of today’s answers:
Send my friends fun packages and small gifts just because.
Give my husband my undivided attention during this conversation.
Write about my feelings and share them with the internet. :)