Despite being a bit of a control freak, it’s actually pretty easy for me to slack off and do things in a somewhat haphazard manner. Even pre-quarantine, I would start each week committed, making schedules, plans, and goals to fit in and around appointments, meetings, and deadlines. But by the time Thursday rolled around, I would be behind, scattered and unmotivated. Because the pandemic has created such a wide swath of the unknown in each of our lives, my initial reaction was even more disorganization and lack of inspiration.
And then it just continued.
Every morning, I awaken and remember that we are still sheltering at home. My day is filled with remote meetings and many, many conversations about how to conduct business, first in an online world and then in an unknown one. Most of us are bursting with questions. I turn to practically everyone I know and ask them to predict the future. Will we return to some version of normal in the fall? What will our lives be like after this? When will I stop eating so much?
It’s the intentionality that I like, taking action on my own behalf. I want this thing and I’m going to do something to make it happen.
I realized a couple of weeks ago, though, that the random, unpredictable nature of the whole thing was almost unbearable. Everything in my life felt like it was falling into a big vat of unknown soup, melting together into a form that made everything slippery and just out of my reach. So, I started trying to be more intentional about the things I could control. In truth, it didn’t actually start that way, although I wish I were that person. The actual impetus came from a desire to engage in something tangible in my life, or at least to believe I could. For me, that’s always writing. And, also for me, that’s always a battle. I love to be swimming in writing, but I am reluctant for a long time to even wade in ankle deep. I love having written, as many writers have said, but the road to that great feeling is a scary one. So I called my longtime therapist and scheduled a Zoom session.
I’d love to say we got the whole thing solved, but of course that isn’t how writing, or therapy, or life actually works. What I did get was the reminder that I need to take some action. I need to make a point to sit down and write. So, I figured out something I wanted to work on, I made a tiny, workable schedule for the week, and I started doing it. Of course this didn't totally ease my resistance and fear. What it did, though, was get me a few steps further on my path—the one that works for me at this time in my life. The result isn’t perfect, but it’s more satisfying than just ignoring the keyboard and then wishing I hadn’t.
Since I was on a bit of a roll, and at least 10 pounds heavier than I like to be, I went to a virtual Weight Watchers meeting the same week, and I immediately remembered why that particular program has worked for me in the past. It’s the intentionality that I like, taking action on my own behalf. I want this thing and I’m going to do something to make it happen. There’s no magic, no waiting for something to change or someone to make it easier. It’s just me taking the steps that I can take. Both of these efforts changed my patterns a little and got me thinking about what I really want and what I’m willing to do to have it.
Most of us were familiar with feeling frazzled long before COVID-19, especially if we were tired, stressed, and overworked. And frazzled doesn’t touch what most of us are experiencing during this unprecedented time. I obviously have no ability to predict the future or to control much of anything in my life or anyone else’s. But I have liked walking out onto this path that is, thankfully, more familiar than I remembered it. And my own voice is actually a relief in the commotion around me. Following it has been easier than I thought it would be, and more comforting than I would have guessed.