What are you up to this weekend? We made pizza at home and took a stroll through the park. And, I left my phone at home.
Screen Time: Screen addiction is a very real thing in the Corona pandemic. Everybody is always available, which is good and bad. It is a nice feeling not to wake up with new notifications about the virus for once. Sometimes I enjoy the time-out from digital feeds that make me feel anxious and to stop cycling through my core set of applications i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, WordPress. These days, breaking this routine felt strange to me. The urge to constantly know what is going on in people’s lives while focusing on my son’s and mine is a lot of work when nothing else is going on. Taking a break to check in on everybody at all times seems like the right thing to do.
On Reading: I am a big reader and found these days, printed books to be more vibrant than ever. I almost read myself through my mountain of “to-be-read-next-books” and will then order new ones online while supporting local, small bookstores in my neighborhood. My son loves to play by himself so I am able to spend a few hours, even during the day, reading while the world is still broken.
On People-Watching: When I sat in the park yesterday and my son chased his basketball, I watched people. And quickly found that looking worried them. Who is coughing? Is she sneezing? Is he too close to me? To her? To them? People are uncomfortable and scared. So, my son and I played social-distant-soccer and basketball away from everyone for almost one hour and had a great time. We have been watched but smiled at.
Walking Around: We have been for a short walk this morning. It was the first time we were outside in the early morning in days and ambling along the barren streets in Vienna was as surreal. Every corner and every street seems to be re-painted as an empty mirage depicting the erstwhile routine of my life before Corona. Vienna is nothing without its people and the formerly minute, now seeming extraordinary details of our habitual activities. I should have never taken them for granted. Actually, I think this is too harsh. Appreciating what you don’t know you don’t have before you no longer have it is basically the definition of empathy, but it takes time to get there. Often, the time is freckled with adversity. This adversity is subjective, but I want to reiterate, if only for myself, that we are all going through something. Not literally, but the grass of my neighbor might look greener, or the act of acknowledging that theirs has turned to weeds might paralyze me with guilt. But I am someone’s neighbor too, and they are observing my grass. I wish I had grass, though. It’s a cycle, no question, and it can get impede a primal desire to connect, but I am beginning to think it can also be interrupted by the conceptual act of sharing your grass in whatever small way you know it. I talk to my neighbor across the street a lot. He is not naked on his bicycle anymore. Corona changes things.
Mentally Surviving this S***: Or maybe it is better to ask how to make time feel more alive? Or to demarcate it. How do you create the gratifying clear breaks of time that the natural rhythms of daily life, even if that only entails going outside for a short stroll, seem to you? How do you acknowledge whatever festivities were planned when there is no longer a real difference between a weeknight and a weekend night because, at least for me, the material specifics of where I go, what I eat and where I eat, have weirdly blended into themselves. So, my friend and I made Spaghetti Bolognese while dancing Salsa to Carlos Santa during and after cooking. Because, why not? And kinda romantic. I think it was Thursday though who the hell knows anymore when I experienced the familiar desire to race through time in order to get somewhere I want to be again. Remember anticipation? It is funny that as a generation, we have been trying to combat this craving to speed time up, not slow it down. Even though some moments could last forever. Now it is what keeps me buoyed.
All of this is to say that creating a ritual around a thing you love to do then savoring every second of it and sharing it with someone you love, either in physical space, cyberly or by pinpointing yourself as the chosen loved one seems like a worthwhile pursuit right now. For me, it creates a fleeting feeling that makes me think, or lets me pretend, that life is normal. I choose to experience this as a reminder that life will be normal again. It has to be. And if nothing else, today was a good day because we are one day closer than we were yesterday.
Always remember it could be worse: This current situation feels different to everyone. Some feel helpless and anxious. Some are bored. Some are self-quarantined alone, and lonely. Some are realizing that After will be very different from Before. Some just got off their 12th double shift in a row at the hospital and can’t hug their family. Some cannot afford soap. Some are learning how to bake bread. Some are living paycheck to paycheck and the next one will not arrive. Some lost their jobs. Some cannot sleep. Some cannot go to the grocery store because they are at risk. Some cannot afford their rent next month. Some cannot meet with a therapist or lawyer. Some people will lose their business. Some just really need a hug. Some will get divorced this year. Some will have a baby this year or early next year. Some don’t know what they are going to do next. Some are horny. Some won’t see their families for months.
And some are logging off to stay grounded.
This is an interesting article on when the coronavirus social distancing will be over if you would like to read.