Bob Ingrum: Evolving Thoughts During Covid

As this Covid-19 pandemic continues unabated, I find my attitude undergoing major changes. I was working in my home office 3 days a week and going to our office in Glendale 2 days a week. In the early days of the lockdown, I spent a lot of time missing my work environment, missing the personal interaction at Shabbat services, moaning about not being able to go out to eat.

As the “shelter in place” extended, I slowly felt my attitude changing. At 78, many people including my wife, ask me when I am going to retire. I have always had a hard time even thinking about retirement. With the pandemic, I am finding myself in “semi-retired” mode and I am liking it. I am finding more time to volunteer with Hillel. I have been known to slip in an early afternoon nap. I am getting more exercise. My weekly bike ride has turned into a twice a week ride. Perhaps most important, I am realizing how special it is to be with family and friends even if socially distanced or via Zoom.

My mantra became, I have no “legitimate” complaints.

I have become a Zoom lover. I have work meetings with Zoom. I attend CBB services with Zoom. As Shabbat services went virtual, I found that I could start with CBB, switch to the student led Hillel service and come back to CBB for Kaddish. I could even listen to the sermon on Facebook. I have my Hillel Board meetings with Zoom. I have family Zoom sessions with children and grandchildren and great grandchildren from Texas and Montana. My family even threw a Zoom surprise birthday party for me. Of course, I was late because I saw there was a short line at Gelsons and I stopped for Corn Rye bread on the way home.

The pandemic isn’t fun. I miss the hugs. I miss the smiles, although I am starting to realize that I can recognize a smile by looking in someone’s eyes. Surely that must mean that they can tell that I am smiling at them. I am going to miss seeing the Young Adults who regularly Break the Fast in our backyard every year. I miss jumping on an airplane and being in Montana or Texas for the special birthdays, graduations, etc.

As the pandemic continues and we see thousands and thousands dying around the world, but especially in the United States, I am starting to truly realize just how lucky I am. I have a job that I really enjoy, and I can work from home. My volunteer work is very fulfilling. I am appreciating family more. I am appreciating health. I see and appreciate things that I took for granted or overlooked in my busy life. I am safe and well. My family is safe and well.

The more I think about it, I am not lucky. I am blessed.

Bob Ingrum was raised in a traditional Baptist home, and chose Reform Judaism in 1992 and had an adult Bar Mitzvah on his 13th “Jewish birthday.” Bob and Janice moved to Santa Barbara nine years ago, although Janice grew up in Santa Barbara and attended Religious School and Confirmation at CBB. In addition to CBB membership, Bob is on the Executive Council for Men of Reform Judaism, is a member of the Commission on Social Action of the Union of Reform Judaism and is the current president of the Santa Barbara Hillel Board of Trustees.