Here we are, at whatever week we are now in, of stay-at-home, social distancing. It is giving us a life-size reflection of our inner turmoil that lay beneath the surface, previously buried underneath busyness, that is now boiling up and out, as we struggle with actually being, instead of doing. We have been forced, against our own will, to slow down and even stop. The brakes have been pumped for us, something that many were not prepared for.
It seems surreal to think that human beings are in fact, unprepared to live a life of being, rather than a life of doing. But it is what we have been surrounded by. Busyness has become a mainstream factor in determining one’s success. And somehow that has subconsciously translated into being lazy, unproductive, even unmotivated if we cannot share that not only our days, but our evenings and our weekends too, were jam-packed with busyness. And now that switch has been flipped.
We are now faced with more time. We do not have gyms to rush to after work. No more hours-long happy hours. Meetings no longer seem to run into ungodly hours. No sports practices, dance recitals, music rehearsals, or swim lessons to rush the kids off to. Familial obligations have been placed on hold. A laundry-list of errands has been dwindled down because, we can’t get our hair cut, our beards groomed, our bodies massaged, our hands manicured, or our eyebrows plucked. Luxurious pampering is gone. Fine-dining out is on hold. Window shopping is a reflection of the past. How shall we fill our time now?
We have more time to sit with our thoughts and feelings—a struggle for many of us (my hand is in the air too). The thoughts that nagged at us, that we shoved to the side because we didn’t have enough time, are now tapping us on the shoulder. And we don’t have our routine distractions to keep them at bay. What we used to hear as whispers, have grown into shouts. “Hey! Woo hoo! Over here! Listen to me!” And yet we are still trying to ignore them, which is not working.
Uncertainty, albeit a regular part of life, has curled itself up in our laps, comfortable to be present in all areas of our lives now. And it is indefinite uncertainty—that is what is making it a constant battle. We do not know when we will be able to have that happy hour with our bestie, because of social distancing. We do not know when we will be able to kick things back into gear at our favorite gym, because they have been closed, indefinitely. We do not know when we will be able to return to work and mingle with our coworkers (which may be a blessing for some). We do not know when we will start earning a regular paycheck again. We do not know when we can step away from teacher mode because our kids are now at home. And the list goes on. We have never had our lives filled with such an uncertainty shit storm.
Perhaps this is what human beings needed—to be forced to actually do more of the being, rather than be more of the doing. We are human “beings” after all. And we have allowed ourselves to collectively get so far off track, that we were walking zombies, following routines without even thinking about them, living our lives with blinders on, moving in one direction, not slowing down. Many of us were headed for a cliff, so life threw up a huge-ass wall to stop us from going over.
We are now living lives that feel like we are teetering on the edge. Our patience is being stretched. Our love is being tested. Our feelings have become a twisted mess, our thoughts distorted. Our fears are being mercifully fed. Our minds and bodies are one tired mass. Time is what we now have to navigate all of this.
We now have time to sort through our feelings and unravel what they truly mean. We get to be more of who we are, unattached from all the busyness. Who are we without the jam-packed schedules? How free can we feel? How still can we be? How light can our minds become?
We now have time to strengthen our familial ties, even if from a distance. We have more time to schedule those video chats with loved ones who are distant. We can actually get on the phone and hear a voice on the other end, rather than shooting off some quick, mindless text. Backyard time is now a regular occurrence with our kids. We have more snuggle time, family time, playtime, bedtime-story time. We have more relax time, unwind time, reflection time, down time. We have more time for hobbies, dreaming, journaling, meditating, pondering, learning, loving.
This is not an easy time on the surface of all the change, but what if we were to start looking at what this has allowed us to unearth for our selves, our loved ones, our families? What if we were to start mining the gratitude within all that seems lost, but has actually been found again? What if we took the pressure off of ourselves (I am including myself on this one) to fill our time with more things to do, and allowed ourselves to be more of ourselves? What if we allowed ourselves compassion for slowing down and savoring the moments? What if we loved ourselves enough to sink into our feelings and look at where they are coming from? What if we moved beyond the dismal, external fog that is being painted around us, to uncover what wants to push its way through?
This is a trying time that is allowing old stories and patterns to surface. For me, it is bringing forth feelings of loneliness and frustration. I am feeling more disconnected and unloved. But I am finding more compassion for doing what feels right in the moment, whether it is reading a book, registering for an online yoga class, enjoying a walk, or just sitting out on the balcony sipping in the fresh air. I am allowing my mind to ponder new things and not pushing it to come up with the next big idea. I am learning to ease up on the pressures I too often placed on myself.
This is an ideal time for love—for self, others, and the world around us. It is an ideal time to nurture the things that truly make you happy (though I know some of them are on hold right now, like travel–one of my faves). It is an ideal time for coming back to the enjoyment of simple things: an exploratory walk around your neighborhood, seeking out that hiking trail you never got around to, basking in the sun’s warmth, going for a drive on the coast, listening to the birds singing around you, coloring or painting with your kids, family time around the dinner table, playing a board game or working on a jigsaw puzzle. It is an ideal time to evaluate all of the external clutter that we allowed to rob us of being more, and doing less—of having more life in our lives, and less busyness. It is an ideal time to evaluate what truly is important to us and if we were on track or off track with our priorities.
Yes, there is a LOT of uncertainty. There is no way to sugarcoat it. But perhaps the silver lining is in slowing down and honing our patience skills. Maybe it is in the honoring of who we are underneath the heavy backpacks of busyness that we were lugging around, and allowing our lightness to cultivate a newfound freedom for ourselves—may that be love, compassion, forgiveness, unfounded dreams, creativity, more being.
Now that many of us can no longer remain busy for the sake of busyness, let us find acceptance for what is right now. Let us tap into our creativity a little more. Let us find compassion for how we have been feeling. Let us find peace within to distance the external noise. Let us see what is most important to us and reprioritize accordingly. Let us reconnect to who we are, not what we tell ourselves we are. Let us reboot our selves and humanity. Let us be.