Maybe, by now, you’ve already been bombarded by articles on how to optimize your days during the time of the Corona pandemic. Perhaps, by now, you’ve already been bombarded by the counter-arguments to ignore all the productivity garbage. Maybe, by now, you are wrestling with the inconsistency of it all. I don’t know how you feel but I do know that there is not one creative process that suits us all. There is no one way to navigate a pandemic. In this time of collective insanity, instead of sharing a prescription, I want to entertain and invite you in so we can all learn from each other.
I woke up around 6 am this morning, which is typical of a weekday morning. Various thoughts of inadequacy trailed through my head in a silhouette, causing me to acknowledge how flimsy and overexposed and trivial I have been feeling. As I moved from quarantine week 4 to 5, survived the weirdest Easter in years, I feel, I don’t know, disassociated from the present state of hunger, deprivation, loss, catastrophe and, in some way, myself. Is this how sociopaths feel? It is the mood fluctuations, I think. At times, I find myself incredibly appreciative of the intimate time of being with my special people. I am also very proud to announce that I know the entire store inventory of the local grocery stores. And how much shit costs. I could start working there. Like now.
But then at other times, I am like: ENOUGH WITH THIS S***! WHEN WILL IT BE OVER? If I hear my son scream and yell, or experience his refusal to draw another picture or build another marble maze, I am going to knock myself unconscious just to escape. And then, I am also like: I want to go out. Dress up. I got refunded for the opera tickets that I purchased for my son and I since it is, you guessed it, CANCELLED. I want to feel normal. Dressing up makes me feel normal. Getting ready for work makes me feel normal. And, these days, I have this urge to write at 6.30 am. And then after I published my words, sometimes I am fine. But other times, I am just like, WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? And then I stop myself and ask who is asking the question and who the you to which I refer is? And that really confuses me, so I revert back to the question and try to understand why I am having this unsettling reaction to an effort that seemed good and honest and pure just moments earlier.
The best I have come up with is the broad spectrum of feelings that punctuate time always, but especially in quarantine. The immediacy of the disparity of the moods that occur in rapid succession, seemingly for no reason beyond the physical motionlessness of my days. Mostly, I cling to writing and meditation and being calm because I cannot see how indulging the inflammatory anger, irritating frustration, depressive discouragement, desperate sadness, and worry can be channeling toward anything productive without it.
Productivity can mean a lot of things. For the purpose of this article, I guess I am talking about what I need to do to pass the days without feeling like I am floating in space, or getting sucked into a vortex of insignificance. What comprises what you need to do, by the way, is going to vary a shit ton from person to person and we may not always have the same answer. One day I might clean, do laundry, cook (always cooking and having thoughts about buying food), but this is all in order to do the same thing: prove my worthiness. Prove that I have tasks to do. I write a to-do list every day with things such as: do laundry, clean kitchen, Yoga, go for a long walk, read, entertain and educate my son that I
strikethrough like a pro once accomplished.
For me, there seem to be two schools of thought on how to pass this quarantine. I can either make the most of it or go easy on myself. But I say those thoughts aren’t binary, I don’t have to pick one. In fact, I cannot pick one. I think we all have to do both to a degree. But before we can, we must first define what making the most of it really means. And we can only do this practically if we go easy on ourselves about it. I think. Do I sound preachy? Have you heard of the concepts of impermanence? It was hard for me, or should I say almost impossible, to understand that so many things that I love and depend on are only temporary. But these days, I realize a deep acceptance of these concepts, there will still be a few things that always seem a bit too temporary. I don’t know if it is absurd that I am somewhat comforted by the notion that everyone is connected by the same, singular dilemma at the same, singular time. We can all learn from each other about how our days are changing, where we might be stuck, and remember we are all figuring it out for the first time. To lighten things up, here are some things that make me happy.
That first cup of coffee.
The honeymoon phase of a new relationship. The honeymoon phase never has to be over by the way. Just always communicate. This is the simplest tool to prevent misunderstandings and future fights.
Taking a bath and my bathwater being at the right temperature.
Kisses & hugs.
Afternoon naps on a rainy day. Listening to the rain.
Being in nature.
Planting things and gardening.
Getting a package or a handwritten letter.
Calling my parents.
Seeing someone’s face light up after giving them a compliment.
Snuggling up and reading in bed.