It’s odd being a writer without the words, a photographer who hasn’t felt the urge to pick up a camera, a creator who wants to do absolute no creating. And yet here we are.
In the past weeks, I’ve reverted back to familiar patterns I thought I’d tucked away in a box on a top shelf years ago, leaving it there to collect dust over the decades to come: namely sleeplessness, staying up until well beyond the witching hour until my eyelids finally lost the fight, afraid the moment I fall asleep the world won’t be here when I wake up.
I’m an extrovert with no desire to socialize. It’s been 17 days in—for us at least—and I haven’t really missed social interaction, it turns out. Will this change me when we come out on the other end? Will it forever alter how we all operate?
I have no need to go out, and yes, I firmly acknowledge my privilege in having both a comfortable and spacious house within which to glide effortlessly from room to room, a partner who lifts me up, provides me with mental and emotional accountability, and keeps me fed. A trio of animals who follow me around as if I were the Pied Piper, leading them to some Utopia of endless bacon and lethargic squirrels to bully.
And yet still, I can’t comprehend: Why are people still socializing? How is it so hard to just do the moral thing and STAY THE EFF INSIDE? We’re not talking in terms of forever here; we’re talking about until the world is safe for you to go outside. You can suffer a few months of boredom for the greater good. Other than essential grocery runs, which we’ve now delegated to Instacart (God bless the gig economy workers who are still doing these necessary tasks for the masses), I’ve felt no desire to leave my home, and I can’t comprehend those who do, unless to go to work or fulfill an essential need.
How do you reconcile losing one’s entire livelihood in a year full of Mondays? Because that’s exactly what this past month has felt like: the cruelest form of Groundhog’s Day, where a new shoe—a steel-toed boot transporting a new set of horrors—drops on the daily. It’s been less than a month since the Nashville tornado permanently altered the lives of so many dear to us, and yet, before I even had time to process it, to grieve with loved ones, this evil came riding in on its coattails, sucking the breath and life out of every last one of us.
I have no answers, and I feel like we’re all looking to someone, anyone, to provide them for us. But I do know this:
I feel scared. Not for us being SVV and me, really. We’ll be fine, we always are— at least I tell myself that to shove any fear back into the furthest reaches of my insides. But I am terrified for everyone, everywhere. The elderly. The immunocompromised. The restaurants who may never bounce back. The small distilleries and breweries who have already been forced to shutter, lay off or furlough employees, cease production until who knows when (maybe forever). The private practices. The independent stores and boutiques. The cafes and coffee houses that are the beating hearts of so many communities. People like my parents who were forced into retirement after a stroke and rely on their long-term stock investments to stay afloat. Anyone who owns a business. I don’t care what industry you are in, we are all affected. So instead of adopting a “woe is me” attitude, let’s all think of the individuals and entrepreneurs everywhere who may not rebound from this. Literally no one remains unaffected.
I feel a lack of guilt for distancing myself from people and things that don’t do me service. This is prime time to rid yourself of the clutter that only brings your life added stress and not joy. Learning to say “no” has been one of the most advantageous skills I have acquired over the last handful of years, and I’m using it liberally during these times with zero guilt.
I feel unmotivated to work. This is a new feeling for me: In a time where I have few, if any, hard deadlines, it’s hard to motivate myself to get ahead of the curve and work toward writing and marketing projects that may or may not come to fruition when this is all over. And yet…
I feel unencumbered by a need for productivity. Sure, I put together a list of things to keep you preoccupied, because if you’re like my husband, an hour of free time is akin to a prison sentence at Rikers Island. But I’ll be honest: While I’ve had plenty of productive days through this, I’ve had just as many where I stayed in bed all day and read. Or didn’t even crack a spine. Or snuggled Ella. Or just laid there, catatonic. Or painted for the sake of a creative release. Or planned to paint all day and never even broke out a brush. This isn’t the time to beat yourself up for unhealthy living, not getting in that at-home workout or not completing your novel. This is a time for survival above all else. Be kind to yourself.
I feel frustrated by the politicians like our own Tennessee state governor who can but aren’t doing enough. And those who finally do, but too little, too late. And, on the flip side, I feel equally frustrated for those in states like New York who are doing all they can but have residents who refuse to comply. Why can’t we all get on the same page here? It’s not a violation of constitutional rights to ask humans to respect and protect the lives of their neighbors.
I feel annoyed by influencers who are acting as if nothing has happened. I get that “selling” may be your bottom line, but there’s a time and place for everything. How can you hawk sundresses and floppy hats and other frivolous purchases without acknowledging the world of hurt the general populace is going through at the moment? This does not apply to the makers and small business owners selling goods and trying to survive, but for the love of God, Instagram “models,” stop being tone deaf.
I feel eager to see if this has a positive impact on the environment. Already, the smog is lifting in China, the water is clearing in Venice—how will our Earth heal after it’s given even more time and grace to do so? Will this change the way we treat the only home we’ll ever know?
I feel helpless. I’ve never wished to work in a medical field before—I faint at the sight of blood, so perhaps it was wise I didn’t choose that career trajectory—and yet I would give anything to be able to contribute to proactively saving lives. Every doctor, nurse, emergency responder or hospital worker of any kind deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom after this is all over.
I feel hopeful. Because a thing of beauty so often emerges from the darkest hours. We saw it in the immediate aftermath of the Nashville tornado, and we are seeing it around the world with those who are doing their part to stay home, others who are on the front lines of this crisis and the hundreds of thousands cheering them on via acts of kindness, no matter how big or small. The world so often feels like a cruel place, but witnessing acts of kindness remotely have made me feel more love than ever.