After several weeks of sheltering at home, I’ve had a lot of time to think. And on a day where I just didn’t know what to do with myself, when I felt I wasn’t getting enough work done, when I just couldn’t get excited about organizing yet another closet, I had an “aha” moment.
It seems like we’ve become hard- wired to measure our value by our productivity or the fullness of a social calendar or the length of a “to do” list. Being busy has become a of badge of honor and the result is that we just don’t know what it means to “be in the moment”. A busy day is just another way we define our self worth.
But now those measures are being challenged by the necessity of doing less. And I think this is a good thing.
There are of course, things that need to get done. And if you, like myself, are working from home, there is the added challenge of balancing home life with home office life. But as I ease into a slower pace of life, and the days sort of meld into each each other, I’ve tried to ease up on the self judgment of not being productive enough.
The stress and shock of the current situation has left most of us feeling a sense of helplessness, uncertainty and concern for the future. That in itself is enough shut down motivation and make it difficult to focus. All the more reason to be kind to ourselves, let go of expectations and learn to live in the moment.
As someone who meditates regularly, this concept shouldn’t be hard for me. But meditation as part of a daily regimen, penciled in between breakfast and showering, is just another activity, A healthy choice we can embrace, or not.
But having to slow down when it’s a directive, not an option (or a side effect of a long planned vacation) is a whole different challenge.
In the “new normal” of social distancing, some of us adapt more quickly than others , while others go into withdrawal from their frenetic go, go, go lifestyle. I admit, I generally fall into the latter group.
But I also believe that if we soften into the concept of doing less, we may see this period in history as a much needed reprieve from a society addicted to nonstop activity.
Since we aren’t supposed to be running endless errands or attending social events, sporting events (cancelled) or vacations, we are by default living a less demanding life which gives us all kinds of time to enjoy the simpler things, ie:
Going for long walks (dog optional but recommended) and taking in the newness of Spring.
Cooking a homemade meal (or ordering from a local restaurant) and appreciating the pleasure and nourishment of food. Add wine as needed.
Sipping a cup of tea (or coffee) and curling up with a good book, movie, puzzle or just gazing into the distance.
You get the idea.. no guilt, no expectations, “just be”.
What we learn about ourselves during this time may be a newfound capacity for resilience and self reflection, empathy and self knowledge. Skills we will carry with us into our future after the restrictions of this pandemic are lifted.
Without a doubt, this is a scary time. Our health is at risk. Many have lost their jobs. Businesses are closing. The economy is tanking. We can panic. We can be scared. We can be sad. But we can also have hope, have empathy, have faith and vow to be better and stronger versions of ourselves when we come out of this.
We can focus on helping others and we can reach out (or zoom out) to friends and family when we need support, friendship and laughter. Because we are all in this together.
As always, thanks and prayers go out to the health care workers, first responders, grocery workers, delivery people and anyone who risks their life to help others.
Hang in there and reach out if you need help or can help others.
And, maybe “just be” for now.