I’ve noticed something over the past week or two. I am becoming calmer and more able to be still.
Pre-COVID Christine could not stand sitting still for more than about a half hour. I would have to find something to do, whether it was something work-related or something around my house. Now, when I have decided the work day is done (which is really hard sometimes when the work space and the living space are one and the same) I am more able to relax, to be present, to not need to stimulate my brain.
I’ve noticed it in my kids too. Over the past seven weeks when they have been at my place, I have seen them move from asking me what they should do, and needing me to be part of their entertainment, to engaging in more self-directed play. Last night we spoke about what we should do after dinner. My daughter said to me that she would really like it if I watched a movie or TV show I like and they would like to make paper airplanes. We watched the movie Paper Planes the night before.
This shift is very interesting to me. It was not an easy one to make. And I wonder if we – if I – have really become addicted to distraction and over-stimulation. Even yesterday I had to buy a loaf pan because I had promised my kids I would make meatloaf. I went in for that one thing. And I got totally distracted by other things – candles, wall art, towels, beer glasses. These are things I did not come to that store to buy, and I did not walk out with them either. But I was very aware that my brain and my body were reacting to the idea of shopping. I found myself saying to a friend the other day that I really wish the mall was open because I would just like to go to the mall. If you know me, you will realize what a ridiculous statement that is. I hate the mall. It is too crowded and too loud. But I was looking for a distraction. I crave that over-stimulation.
I wonder what other distractions I will discover over the coming weeks. I suppose I could argue that writing is a distraction, but it is not the same kind of distraction. I don’t get that “hit” from writing. Writing is more like a nutritious green smoothing while some of our other distractions like shopping or binge watching 90 Day Fiance (which I admit I do) or needing to be entertained are more like a Monster energy drink.
As we continue our physical isolation, I am learning to be still. I am learning to find ways to stay productive and to find rest. I am learning that in the times when I have two small humans with me, it is good for us to do things together, to get outside and hike, to play board games, to do crafts and paint, and it is also good for us to just do the things we normally do – in the same space. We are still together. I am also learning that when I am alone, I will be okay if I don’t have something I need to do all the time. It’s okay to have down-time.
I think many of us are feeling like we have been through an over-stimulation detox. This will change us. As we recognize things like how we can live with a lot less, that we don’t need access to retail stores 24/7, and that we do not need to be entertained every waking moment, may we find a peace within ourselves and joy from within rather than from without. May we be more in tune with our beautiful array of emotions and listen to what they are telling us, rather than masking them with distraction.
This is a very difficult time. And it is an opportunity we will (hopefully) never get again. Let’s not waste it.
Sending light and love to you and your loved ones. Stay safe. Stay home. Reach out. Be well.