This is my third attempt this past month to write a post for my blog. Focus is hard right now. My prior attempts have been so circular and I decided not to post. But I also don’t want another year of not posting. So here goes trial number 3. I will post it regardless of what I think at this point. I do find myself re-reading my own posts. So circular or not, it’s time to just do it…and move past this weird phase. I would call it writer’s block, but it’s not. I have plenty to write, but I just seem to drift off and hop from one subject to another in a few paragraphs.
But sometimes, even if I find my blog in this situation as Prince was told after a ‘scandalous’ performance: “Nobody digs your music but yourself.” Sometimes same can be said about bloggers’ posts. Sometimes I feel this way about my posts.
So this is how the past two attempts started weeks ago
Attempt 1: – the almost post
My last blog post was about why hobbies and special interests are important in such times and how they provide a sense of connection and prevent the bad effects of isolation. These connections help one through these times. As this quarantine goes on and on, the effects of it all are cumulative. The point of this post is not to go into the tragic details of these times; I cannot even begin to address that. But as I wait, in somewhat hopeless times, more introspection goes on. Yes, I posted about the Need for Introspection and how when I don’t have enough introspection I feel out of balance. And while I’m a social person, I do need some introspection time, with the comfort of knowing that when I’m ready, I can fully indulge in in life. Well, even by my standards, this is a little too much introspection and it would be nice to live the life I had before this.
So these days to survive one must almost invent another life and other techniques. It is not easy. But times like these, you have to dig very deep inside and figure out how to survive and keep your spirits high. It’s different for everyone.And to complicate it, it’s even different for one’s self: day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever,
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.John Keats “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”
This too is individual, and it can be something as simple as a new pair of red sandals.
Addition today – Some Focus?
So instead of going down that path, I will summarize my learnings from this quarantine period. As I laid in bed today for hours (=massive introspection) listening to the rain, I asked myself what did I learn and what am I learning from all this and how will I make it actionable? Life after all is learning and adjusting to the new learnings. And the faster we learn AND adjust the better the quality of our life.
I will start with the easiest:
1. Cars and watches -yes hobbies like that help. No, a car can’t make you happy but it does give me some joy, especially when the weather is nice and I can drive with the top down. No, it’s not to show off, who cares about showing off. It’s to enjoy what I worked so hard for and if it lifts my mood, why not? It is a reward I gave myself for some good choices I made in life. I have heard from people, ‘oh you shouldn’t post about decadent things.’ Decadence is not just material things. Others are posting about their versions of decadence, maybe not a car, but something or someone else. That sort of decadence may be missing from someone else’s life. I am not the social media censor. If it gets them through these times, and they are not hurting anyone, so be it.
Also, these hobbies can foster human connection if done in an authentic way. No, I don’t buy something to show off, I buy it because I like it. Some others may have similar interests and hence the connection is founded in these common interests. Which leads to the next one.
So through this all, it is of utmost importance, for me, to retain the sense of self. No that’s not just cars and watches, but it’s getting ready every morning as I always did. Dress a certain way, if nobody sees it.
It is very easy to temporarily lose the sense of self in these isolating times.
2. Human Connections – As much as I try to diminish the importance of this one due to being isolated from society, it is a big one. This doesn’t mean I want to go into huge crowds, I never did. I have an aversion for crowded places, not because of the virus, but because I just don’t like it. But for most, some degree of human connection is a necessary condition for the human spirit to flourish. Ideally it can be about being in the same physical space which now has become difficult. But one takes calculated risks for everything. What if you don’t have a human connection? Watch American Psycho, an entertaining movie that is not preachy or syrupy.
Last week I went into my office (socially distanced, have my own office and hardly anyone is there) because two months of running meetings out of my bedroom was getting to me. The minute I decided to go in I became very excited and happy. I needed to do it, and didn’t endanger anyone else.
From many feet away, I encountered a person and had a casual conversation with them. Yesterday I also talked someone in my underground garage after returning from a joy ride around town. Conversed about 25 minutes in a dark dusty garage about how they are dealing with this and how I’m dealing with this. Again, at least 15 feet social distance.
And then there is zoom, virtual and all that. But at the risk of sounding like a poet, there is no full substitute for actually seeing someone, their eyes and expressions. I don’t mean this in a romantic way only either. But people are not two dimensional and through a video we just hear and see two dimensions…a flat world….the other senses are ignored.
But enough on this one, other than the right human connections do fuel. Which leads to the next one.
Yes, much has been written about this and this is not a big revelation of this post. But practicing gratefulness is a different story. Once there is an acceptance that I can’t change this negative exogenous factor in the world (the whole pandemic and what goes with it), I identified what I should be grateful and appreciative of. My life could be a LOT worse during this. No I’m not living my best life for sure, but there are many key components that have not been taken away and I am very grateful and appreciative of. So what? I realized that as I appreciate those things in my life, I need to cultivate them. And once this is over or gradually over, I need to make sure I make time to live those things.
4. Individuality & Compassion
There is a LOT of ‘shaming’ going on these days. For example, someone I know saw his mother and hugged her on mother’s day. According to some, he’s an idiot and bad guy and he’s going to cause a lot of deaths. STOP JUDGING. This is a choice he and his mother made. Neither is around a huge group of people, so again, stop judging. Now people are being shamed left and right for all kinds of things.
I do not prescribe for others how to live but I see many that do. There is clear ‘bad behavior’ that put many others at risk right now, so fine, don’t indulge in it.
But not everyone is the same, we all deal with stress and external stuff differently. Free will.
Many reduce it all down to politics. I despise politics and stay far from it so I don’t indulge in those conversations. Which leads to the next one:
This is a time that you see the best and worst in people, like any other time of huge stress like war. You always get to know people better during bad times. It brings the worst and best out of people. Some people are predisposed to best and some to the worst. People getting shot over a parking space at Menard’s? Or beating a cashier because she’s limiting how many packs of toiled paper you can buy?
And through social media, you can also see how your friends are faring in this. Some post nothing but angry stuff full of hate. Going forward, a good one to stay away from. Yes, compassion dictates that you know they are hurting and very damaged. But reality also dictates, love and compassion often can’t fix this and they probably need professional help. But I don’t judge, I just stay away at this point You can’t rescue everyone.
Some people vent on social media about being isolated. That one is not negative because many can relate and feel the same. Some deal with massive humor, which is great because laughter is a great distraction.
Some reach out to you to further as they forge that human bond, some don’t. This is a whole other topic about loneliness and who should we reach out to. One of my favorite topics as I have been reading and listening to podcasts about it. But, through other health complication, loneliness kills also.
At the risk of sounding like a teenager, I realized that I will just live my life. Whether it’s too decadent or this or that in the eyes of some, I will not get irritated or justify. And next one is a near and dear one.
So yes, it’s a good time to find out who is who in these times….
6 “All the single ladies” and guys
I will give a special mention to my single lady (and yes some guy) friends; not because they are sad, pathetic and miserable, but because this is just a really bad time to be single. We can’t go out and do as we please because everything is closed. Part of the joy of being single is the freedom of not being tied down and doing as we please and see who we please, but now we are confined to some sort of unit. I see a lot of my friends posting endless selfies (as do I) with their cats, dogs, cars, backyard, new hair color and endless other combinations. The huge benefit of single life has been taken away-freedom.
I talked to a few, no they don’t want to be in a bad boring relationship, but sitting at home all the time gets old if it’s not who you are. One friend told me how her married friend was preaching to her that it’s not so bad to be quarantined and how they get to spend more time with kids and husband and new interests. They cannot relate and should not preach. Singles who are very active on the dating scene now can’t date and go out because they aren’t ‘quarantined’ with their dates. I often wonder how this quarantine would impact me if I was still married. Ultimately the answer is depends. If a relationship is annoying you are better off being single in this because seeing someone you don’t like 24/7 is way too exhausting. Which is why this will make or break many relationships.
But again, a married person or a person living with a significant other should not preach to a single person – right now that can be a differentiator, good or bad.
I have always been a huge advocate for introspection. It is how we grow as we sort through life’s conditions, some we control, some we don’t.
But yesterday I had sort of shift while having coffee outside– instead of constantly mentally fighting some things I just can’t control which leads to much frustration; almost like little mental tantrum, accept it and move on and make the best of it and craft your life to incorporate this acceptance.
Yes, of course this has been written about and advocated by many. But to me, putting this into practice has been the biggest challenge. And it has been 24 hours that it finally hit me into an actionable life. And it will take conscious effort to stay on track. To me, this has been the biggest learning. And I suspect to many others.
Back to some of my single friends they are questioning why life has not granted them an ideal soulmate husband or whatever. It’s best to just live. Once life returns to normal…or some form it (yes, sick of the term ‘new normal’ as many are)-fun and more fulfilling life will also return.