Unlike a lot of people, I am not bored during this unprecedented time. I could fill three lifetimes with all my interests and things I want to do. Additionally, a few months ago my father unexpectedly passed away, leaving things in a very disorganized state. There were legal messes, financial messes and plenty of physical messes. I had to do a lot of detective work to celebrate his life in the best way I could. What kind of service did he want? What suit did he want to be buried in? What songs did he want sung at this service? What prayers read? The detective work continued and for me it became a full time job, which was good because I lost my actual real full time job.
In an odd way my father’s death and the coronavirus pandemic are two events that have supported each other. My father died, then the coronavirus slowed down my work. When my store closed, I looked at it as an opportunity to spend more time on this huge project which involved a lot of traveling, time and energy. Suddenly, the new theme of my life was spaciousness. I had more time. I had more space. I began to enjoy the low amount of traffic and less “hecticness” of my usual hard pressed life. I could hear myself talk on the road trips and at home at his house where I cleaned. I could have an uninterrupted thought. I marveled at the cushion of space my entire life had.
Quarantining For Introverts
Other folks on social media were stressing and feeling deranged by the quiet and lack of company but somehow I was fine and maybe even better than usual. Being an introvert is kind of like tuning in to a really great TV channel or show. It’s compelling and engaging. Once in a while, you don’t mind watching another show. Sometimes those shows are exactly what you need. It’s not that your TV show is better than anyone else’s — you just really need to go back to your own show. Too much time watching those other shows makes you want to catch up on what you missed.
I always felt wrong for being this way. In most of my careers, I had to be as extroverted as possible and sell, sell, sell! Maybe the quarantine is an opportunity for introverts to be strong and marketable too. Being loud is viewed as passionate. Quiet people are seen as weaker and less passionate — but that’s not true.
The Pond of My Time
I admit when I’m not being an introvert I do enjoy eating out, vintage shopping, going to museums, attending the occasional Drag Queen Bingo, kayaking, attending craft beer and wine tastings among other things. I miss “filling the pond” as The Artist’s Way writer Julia Cameron recommends. She says that artists need to fill their minds with color, words, music and things that inspire. My “pond” these days is filled via Pinterest pins.
The quarantine also changed my thoughts on how I perceive time. A day is a day — there is no longer that Friday night party feeling or pressure to have that Saturday night date night. The Sunday scaries happen a lot less. The quarantine made me realize how I put a lot of energy into these themes. Modern time structures are kind of like this. If you are not social on a Friday night you are a loser. Sunday afternoon is for church or brunch. Monday brings panic and for the holidays you have to do this or that. I really judge how I spend my time. I love some holidays and their sparkly things but maybe the world would be a better place without creating more plastic stuff . How many clothes does one person need? Can our crippled planet really afford anything that isn’t essential?
Obviously with losing my Dad, I am grieving but now everyone else is grieving too in some way. There are countless losses both big and small. We are breathing and moving more slowly, stunned by the news everyday. And yet there is also a curiosity. Nature is thriving while we quarantine. What will all this change bring?
For Essential Trips Only
From what I have read, a virus is too small to see by light microscopy and is also able to multiply only within the living cells of a host. I asked myself, “What am I a host to?” A lot of people pleasing apparently. Time alone gave me the opportunity to go back to my inner movie reel and re-watch all that people pleasing. I want to say “no” when I really say “yes.” I spend a lot of time and energy thinking of the perfect sentence. I agonize over the most polite way to say “I’m busy” but what I really want to say is “You and I are different people. I wish a tribe for you of like-minded people but I am just inwardly tired spending time with you.”
Now the key is how do I embody these lessons once the world reopens? I don’t want to go back to an over-scheduled, loud, busy life filled with fake smiles. I want to be strong in my decision to live a slow life. The quarantine has provided me with a beautiful reset button. The other day I saw a bus drive by with the light up marquee that read “For Essential Trips Only.” Maybe I need to live by that motto — make only essential trips, see only essential people and do only essential things.