Another spring is coming and still we are at home

Denver, 17 of March

Dearest Shraddha-Giulia and Dinesh,

This letter is a little later than I intended, but better late than never. Besides, it has given me more time to think as we are about to mark 1 year of going into COVID-19 lockdown. Though we are no longer in lockdown, I find myself still staying close to home except when I go shopping for food or drive to the University to teach 2 days a week. The short trips I used to take here and there, I no longer do. I suspect it is partly because the pandemic is not behind us, it is still among us – all of us. People are still getting infected and, though the numbers aren’t as high, still dying. Also, I have gotten into the habit of just not going out. I still don’t feel safe. I won’t eat at a restaurant. I won’t go to a bar (something I never did anyway, so no loss there.) I meet friends for a hike or a walk and we keep our distance wearing masks and say hello and goodbye without our traditional hug.

I am glad 2020 is behind us for the same reasons most people are. But after starting off poorly (my father passing on January 5), 2021 isn’t that bad. Although I can look back on 2020 and lament all the stress, calamity, misfortune, I’d rather focus on the gifts and blessings of 2021 these days. Albert Einstein said ‘Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.’ There have been many blessings to count and it has only been 3 months.

For instance, politically, the US is much more stable and Americans are much better off without a pathological narcissist running the country (into the ground.)

I have had the opportunity to reflect much more on my life and chart my path going forward more clearly. Fewer distractions have opened the door to present and coming attractions. There is so much opportunity coming. I can feel it in my bones and in my heart. I dreamt the other night I was living in Italy (like I plan to do), and I was joyfully at peace.

I read the other day that because of the pandemic, most animal shelters are out of pets to adopt. People adopted millions of homeless animals to relieve the stress and boredom of staying at home all the time. Everyday. That does my heart good.

I watched as the newest Martian probe, Perseverance, landed perfectly on Mars and is on its way to uncovering some of the mysteries of our brother planet. The flawless execution of yet another probe by NASA scientists makes me, yet again, deeply proud of being a human being. When men and women collaborate and coordinate together on such an extremely complex and sophisticated endeavor like Perseverance and succeed, it speaks to the innately curious explorer in us all. Watching Perseverance succeed reminded me of the incomparable triumph of New Horizons – the probe that visited Pluto and is now far, far, past in the Kuiper Belt. To plan a mission that will take 9 years to just begin after safely flying 4.8 billion kilometers (3.6 billion miles) requires unfathomable intelligence, ingenuity, creativity, perseverance, collaboration, and unflinching trust. All qualities that make humans truly a species to be reckoned with. When the world was locked down in homes all over the globe, ambassadors to our insatiable drive to discover our place in the universe were landing on Mars and powering beyond our own solar system – billions upon billions of miles from “home.”

And finally, my dear Giulia and Dinesh, I have you two to be grateful for. For your love and support on the passing of my parents. For your compassion and good humor. For your insights and wisdom.

We are only 3 months into 2021, and already I am a very rich man. But who’s counting?

Jim

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