Many, many moons ago in a parent-teacher conference, a teacher told my parents that given the opportunity, I would always choose to stop and smell the roses.
Strictly speaking, that's not true.
I think my mother's more recent observation that "no grass grows underneath [my] feet" is probably more accurate, especially given my tendency to sometimes not spend as much time visiting a place, or appreciating things as I should.
Let's hold that thought for now.
Coronavirus: When Will The Situation Change?
Quarantine has no end date.
I cannot look to the future and say "there will be a vaccine in this month," let alone "people will take sensible action to prevent the spread of the virus."
I can't expect anything. Everything is a mess.
My "return to office" date has been tentatively pushed back to January, and even then, is still a date after which I could continue to work from home "with manager approval."
I'm continuing to stay with my parents in Eastern Pennsylvania, where I have ample opportunities to stop and smell the roses.
Or, at least I would if they hadn't been toasted by the sun months ago.
Walking Over The Same Old Ground
Since I have no car, most of my time outside, and most of the photographs that I've taken are in the immediate area around my parents' house.
One might think that I'd be getting bored.
After all, how many times can you photograph the same thing?
In fact, what has happened is that I have at least gained is an appreciation for the small changes around me.
Flowers that bloom for such a short time. Animals are only visible in fleeting glimpses.
Sure, the landscape is the same, but it is also subtly but noticeably different after a storm, or after a particular weed starts flowering everywhere.
So, I'm doing my best to appreciate the small things, and capture some of the things that are ephemeral.
Like the sight of this spider's web after a rainstorm.
Or these mushrooms on a log, which became black and smelly just two days after the same storm...
It's important to me now that I recognize that some of my earlier plans for 2020 are well and truly on hold. Some of the future ideas that I imagined in April and May cannot take form either, and have evaporated and disappeared.
(No more looking at rail maps of the U.S., Steve...)
A good friend said, "Remember just because we're in 'lockdown' doesn't mean we're stuck. We just have a different set of restrictions."
I can try to focus on things I've been avoiding and work on self-actualization.
I can work on learning skills and mindsets that would work towards my pre-COVID plans, whilst furthering my interminable working-from-parents' house life.
So, what does this mean in more concrete terms?
For a very concrete example, let's take my current location. I'm living with my parents in a rural area for an indeterminable amount of time. Under different circumstances, I probably wouldn't have made this decision. After all, I spent most of the last decade living separately from family members in more urban environments.
But how do I frame this situation and this decision?
It is far too easy to turn around and say that I am stuck, that I was forced into this particular situation due to the extraordinary circumstances in the world.
That mindset serves no purpose. No good will come from feeling resentment towards a plague.
The better mindset is to accept that my decision to move back in with my parents, and all the highs and lows associated with it is my decision and one that I am continuing to make. It is one that I made considering the current circumstances, but it was my choice to move here, and is continuously my choice to remain.
(It is, of course, my parents' choice to accept me and put me up for the time being, for which I am thankful.)
It's maybe a bit difficult to articulate this well, but re-affirming that my decisions are my decisions and that I can choose to change them if I wish is really important, particularly in this time of limited agency.
It helps make things feel more like a time of growth than one of stagnation and decay.
It is important to remember that I have agency and I am using it.
Keeping distance from others and being relatively isolated is itself also a choice, and is mine as well.
So what can I do?
- Do my best to take advantage of each
tedious, uselessday of quarantine with a positive attitude.
- Try to hone my ability to do writing/story-telling/photography/etc., using this blog as a medium.
- Make coffee.
- Actually practice language-learning.
- Stay connected with friends near & far.
- Maybe actually finish the album I said I might finish like a year ago.
- Remain anchored and grounded in the place and time where I am, with an eye towards the future that is becoming, and the future I want to see...
- etc., etc.