Quarantine In My Mind
The physical distancing that this pandemic has forced upon our lives is not only tortuous to daily activity; it has posed a challenge to our minds. Life as we knew it has slowed from the racing pace of an Indy Formula 1 car to one that resembles the crawl of a sloth. There is a calming effect that occurs once the realization sets in; I do not need to hurry. This is a word that has been ingrained into our way of life. Hurry. We must hurry through everything; inevitably, we must hurry through life.
This new pace has led me to question this very quest. At least, I thought it was a quest that represented life moving forward. What I am finding through all this extra time that I am spending with myself is that life is not a speed pass. That is a result of using toll roads and avoiding the lengthy lines to pay the toll, not the map for my life.
You can see where I am going here, can’t you? This is my fourth week working from home. Gone are the co-workers and the daily connections. No more last-minute requests, unless of course, they arrive through email. Can that method still be considered last minute? This is an example of the slowing down of the usual hurry-scurry that I have experienced in the work environment. Now I have time to think about each and every task. Decisions are more methodical and thoughtful. Isn’t this a good thing?
Where and when did we as a culture begin to treat life as a race, something to buzz through and basically complete. Do we really want our life completed? I am also wondering why we need to fill every minute of every day with activity. Moving like a freight train only gives one result…moving like a freight train. Life is an opportunity to create and live our own story. And like any story, it has lulls in it. Yet, we try with all our might, to fill those lulls with something, something, something….WHY?
Instead, that space that is now between myriads of prior activities can be the pot of gold we have been seeking. There is opportunity to focus and learn about ourselves in the real sense, not in the busy sense. What has ‘busy’ given us anyway? As I contemplate and contrast my routine from what it was before, I continue to ask myself, “What was I thinking?” Busy has taken on a new meaning. It actually has meaning as I live the fewer choices more fully.
An example that occurs on a daily basis while I am working is very basic. My office is situated on the lower level of the house with windows that face the street and the walkway leading to the front door. Since the windows are ground level, I can only see the lower-half of anyone who walks to and from the front door. Every day around mid-morning, the mail carrier brings mail and packages to the house. The anticipation of seeing the mail carrier heightens as the time of his arrival draws near. When I was ‘busy,’ I barely paid any attention to this amazing individual. Now, not only am I giddy to see him every day, I am thankful for the purpose of his position and the results it provides. Here is someone who is delivering mail and packages in all varieties of weather and majorly six-days a week, albeit not on holidays. No one else I know endures that schedule or weather uncertainty.
We, as a culture, need to assess this busyness we have succumbed to believe as necessary. I am learning on a daily basis, busy needs to be meaningful, not busy for busy sake. We waste countless minutes and hours in a hurried life that would be more meaningful through a slower and deliberate choice of activities. This takes discipline to be mindful and selective. Discipline takes effort and a conscious mindset with a goal in mind. Matthew Kelly, a New York Times bestselling author, wrote the following sentence in a book I am currently reading, “Rediscover Catholicism.” As you can see, I am re-examining not only my activities but my spiritual self. Anyway, this sentence seems apropos to the topic of this article. “In the absence of discipline, man must content himself with superficialities and mediocrity.”
Am I? Are we? Does the busy life we have accepted lead us to content ourselves “with superficialities and mediocrity?” As I examine my own choices, I think I have fallen into this abyss. This new busy is my opportunity to live a more authentic life with choices that tell my story, not the story our culture has been pressing upon us. Busy is as busy does…no longer for me. Busy is a conglomeration of selected activities and time used for enjoying the simple things in life, such as appreciation for people-centric connections.
In this article, my purpose was not to dwell on the pandemic’s challenges to daily life, but the positivity and opportunities we can gain.