Story Submitted by Darouny Bounsengsay

Zen has been especially hard to find this year – I’m sure for all involved in the chaos that was 2020. It’s taken root now in a couple of different places in and situations in my life and I’m thankful I’ve been able to find it. Quarantine, in a sense, was a personal blessing in disguise. (These words are not being written to lessen the severity of the global and local lasting effects of Covid-19. I assure you I have taken it seriously.) When the news first broke about the pandemic, I was working full-time at a restaurant. Just a few short weeks after, I worked my last day before the world shut down. Zen? Relaxation? Calm? Peace? I had no understanding of what those words meant at that time. No idea they could apply in such a time of chaos. Didn’t think I could find any of those things while I was stressing about unemployment payments, bills, food, feeding Ellie – any and all things I could stress, I was. Bridd and I were laid off together and for the first couple of days we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We had become so accustomed to constantly moving, working, or socializing every day that when we had to stop it felt like the human equivalent of Newton’s first law of motion – A body in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. We didn’t have zen. Shoot sometimes it felt like we barely had time to breathe between our restaurant jobs, brewery jobs, family, friends, and general life activities. It was a great blessing to be able to settle in and make our house a home. Bridd and I were hardly home and it was unfortunate the only way to get us to stop and even attempt to relax was because it was forced upon us. I also didn’t have zen with restaurant. I was unhappy and no longer loved the job. Taking a break, albeit a forced one, actually brought that joy and peace back. I focused more on what I missed about the job there than what I loathed and hated. Funny enough, I found my zen at work during quarantine. I am ironically writing this from my second job as I pull 6 day work weeks balancing a 9-5 position and serving on the weekends. Quarantine and any zen we had found seems like it was eons ago rather than just a couple of months ago, but here I am back into the thick of it with a new focus on finding those moments in the day that are quiet and reflective, so I can pause and try to find the zen of the day. To those of you who feel like you never stop moving, your zen is out there, but please try not to let it be a global shut down that helps you find it.