It’s Groundhog Day every day. I wake up and it’s another day like yesterday with a different name. Monday, Tuesday, Sunday. It’s all the same. Nowhere particular to go and few things to do. That might have been a desired state in the reality that used to be ours, when moving at a fast pace and being out and about were the ways of the world. But now that we’re living in sweats and we have to don armor to go outside, it’s getting pretty tedious. The news has a dozen different takes on what’s going on, but most of them are not based on reality. It’s easy to get scared which temporarily displaces boredom, but we always return to the bottom line: a long day with no close friends, movie theaters or restaurants.
Life hasn’t changed all that much for me. Writing each morning has been my norm for years, but sometimes my mind has a bad habit of latching onto an unpleasant thought or idea. I begin to obsess over something that is ultimately extraneous and meaningless and I have a hard time stopping it. “She needs to get a life. She has too much time on her hands.” That describes me pretty well over the last few months.
Who imagined that our “stay at home” directive would last this long? The hours stretch out, we’re mostly alone with ourselves, and it’s easy to get stuck in a downward spiral. So what do we do? For me, it’s distraction, distraction, distraction. That serves several purposes. The first one is guiding my mind into a creative mode which is stimulating and satisfying. That feels good and makes my brain secrete chemicals that make me feel less anxious and more centered. Secondly, when I knit, do my leatherwork or write stories, I lose time. I stop thinking about myself, my mind focuses on the task at hand and I become engaged in something compelling and gratifying. When I take a break, I’m surprised at how much time has passed and how much better I feel.
My cat, Star, is my teacher these days. (Writing about her is a perfect demonstration of how little else is going on, but she’s a very important presence in my life.) She is so beautiful, I can watch her endlessly, even when she sleeps. Cats have idiosyncrasies and strange ailments, but they never get insomnia. And then, there’s her peaceful nature, her deep belly purr and the way she sidles up to me to calm me down and make me feel loved. We’re not supposed to hug or kiss anyone who isn’t quarantined with us and she gives me an outlet for touching and rubbing. Nothing rattles her. If I drop something or make a noise she doesn’t like, she may jump up and rush away, but in a moment or two, she’s back in her serene state of mind. She doesn’t hold grudges and her internal clock lets her know when it’s feeding time, sleeping time or time to wake up. I like to say that she runs a tight ship.
I’m trying to take advantage of the space we have and exercise my creativity. Our reality has been forever changed but it won’t be like this forever, so when we look back at these days, I hope we have no regrets or feelings that we wasted time. In my opinion, the only wasted time is when we obsess or let our fears run away with us. I’m doing my best to keep my mind and heart in a compassionate place toward myself and other people by slowing my breath and being mindful about my thoughts. What are you doing?