A friend of mine sent me a link to a Facebook post that everyone should read. I’ve provided a screenshot of it here so you can read her words of wisdom.
Now, I get it. The motivation behind this phrase is painfully obvious:
“If you don’t come out of this with a new skill, you never lacked time, you lacked discipline.”
I assume the intent of the original author of this quaint and completely asinine sentiment was that we should all use this time in quarantine and social distancing and put it towards some noble purpose like learning to knit or cooking that recipe we’ve been meaning to prepare that takes all day or looking up yoga poses on YouTube (Ms. Hijazi saw the exact same thing on a yoga studio Facebook page.)
But I used the term “painfully obvious” for a reason.
Pain. Not like the pain I experienced when I dusted off my running shoes and ran several miles everyday for the last four days and now my left ankle is killing me. Not like pain one experiences when you do try that new recipe and you singe you hand on the stove while you are looking at the cookbook. Not like the pain of accidentally jabbing a knitting needle into your wrist.
Psychological pain. Emotional pain. Anxiety. Fear. Uncertainty. Dread.
If you don’t devote the time in quarantine and lockdown to learning yoga poses on YouTube because you are a recovering alcoholic (like, say, me) and you really look forward to your AA meetings because they get you outside of yourself, trust me, you’re not alone. Because now you don’t have the warm feeling of sitting in a room with other recovering alcoholics, knowing that, as my grand-sponsor says, this is the safest place you will be all day. You don’t get to see the knowing smiles and reassuring words that have gotten you this far, whether that’s a month, a year, or multiples of years.
If you don’t devote this time learning how to make that new recipe for baked ziti because you are coming up on the 15th anniversary of a Traumatic Brain Injury (like, say, me) and you still, after all this time, have to grapple with chronic high anxiety, depression and myoclonus that all result from a bacterial meningitis infection that ravaged your brain long ago, you’re not alone. Instead, You Skype your parents and you call your buddies and you binge watch stand-up comedy on Netflix, hoping against hope that Kevin James will make you forget how utterly lonely you are.
If you don’t devote this time to learning that difficult piano piece you’ve been meaning to get to (like, say, me) because it’s everything you can do to just sit down and meditate for 20 minutes with the reassuring words of Sam Harris guiding you, you are not alone.
And if you don’t devote this time to taking up, say, woodburning, because A) You don’t have a woodburning pen and/or B) You are agoraphobic and the thought of going out now in the middle of what is shaping up to be the biggest economic recession (depression?) of you and everybody you knows life and its terrifying, you are not alone.
Using the time to learn a new skill? How about using the time to nurture that last thread that links you to sanity and takes your mind off the fact that you can’t physically see your therapist to discuss your PTSD and/or depression and/or obsessive compulsive disorder and/or bipolar disorder or any number of things you desperately want to share with someone else and enjoy a hug because you have to stay 6 feet way from everybody.
How about using this time to tell anyone who will listen “You are not alone. A lot of us are in pain.
“And we’ll get through this together.”
How about girding up your loins and realizing that everyone you come into contact with everyday, whether its on Skype or Zoom or the good old fashioned telephone, is dealing with something you have no earthly idea about and the best thing you can do is be kind?
Or how about just keeping your bogus motivational bullshit to yourself.
If you are not using this social distancing/quarantine time to learn a new skill, you’re not alone. You’re in it with the rest of us. Buckle up and ride it out. I’ll see you on the other side.