I don’t know about you but I seem to be getting irritated lately by the smallest things. People say something that rubs me the wrong way. There are long hours in the day that I have to fill up and I’m tired of watching TV. I’m standing in line at the grocery store with all my armor in place and someone gets too close to me. I’m walking in the park and someone jogs by, sweating and not wearing a mask. I don’t like how someone is driving. I don’t like people being on their phones when I’m in the pharmacy. These are all forms of irritation, at times for good reason, at other times for no reason.
I think we’re just distracting ourselves. The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, issued an order for us to shelter in place about six weeks ago. We were in shock at first, then we settled in, but now we’re getting antsy. We worry about going out and getting back to work, and we worry about staying in and watching the economy take a dive. And at the helm of all of this, in Washington, it appears that the lunatics are running the asylum. How could we not be scared?
I can see that underneath the irritation is fear. That’s pretty clear and finding a distraction is normal behavior when we’re scared. We’re going through something unprecedented, we have to take each day as it comes. and do our best to calm down and stay out of the future. I’ve heard people say with authority that we can go back out in two weeks. Other people say it’ll be months and even years. I’ve decided not to believe anyone because the truth is that nobody knows, it’s beyond our control and there’s nothing we human beings dislike more than being out of control.
Last week I talked to people who were frustrated and feeling shame because they hadn’t tackled their lengthy “to do” list. They were lamenting about wasted time and their inability to stay focused. I know this one. I know how it feels to bog myself down what we “should” do and what we didn’t do. But what if we chose a different way to face this? What if we scrapped our no “to do” lists and we took each hour as it came? What if we stopped caring about being productive and replaced it with getting through the day with kindness and compassion for ourselves and others? What if we stopped keeping score and we started finding ways to feel connected and be there for our friends and family.
Quarantining alone and quarantining with family, present unique trials. Somebody said they were lonely and sick of hearing their own brain loops. Someone else said she had to hide in the closet to get some alone time. She couldn’t stand listening to her husband’s voice. And someone else complained that she was tired of thinking of things to occupy her children who were nagging and complaining.
Whichever situation we’re in, it all gets on our nerves. We’re being tested for a very long time and we’re doing the best we can. Getting down on ourselves makes us feel down and thinking we’re wasting our time is a waste of time. I’m trying to stay in the moment, the only place where pain and sorrow can’t hang out. I’m resisting going over my day before I go to sleep and deciding if I should be happy about what I accomplished or unhappy about what I didn’t. Instead, I breathe, I calm my fears and I try not to project. I wish myself sweet dreams and when I wake up in the morning, I wish myself an easy day.
What do you do?