ANXIOUS IN THE WILDERNESS
Disclaimer: This post was written in June of 2020, but never posted. I am preparing a 2021 update, but was kind of discouraged about how little has changed. Oh well, onward and updward.
I know that there are people out there (I even know some of them personally) who can shelter in place and accomplish the things that they usually don’t have time for. They are learning new languages, finishing long-languishing projects (books, quilts, sweaters), doing their Spring/Summer cleaning, taking online courses. How I wish I were one of them! For me it is a good day if I can move from one inconsequential task to the next, mostly complete them, and only lie down on the couch with my eyes closed three or four times during the day. If I get dressed before noon it is a major accomplishment.
I am not usually a particularly anxious person. But I like my illusions (delusions?). I love believing that I am somehow in control, that I have some idea what tomorrow and the day after will look like, that people are generally good and kind. Right now, those beliefs are under siege and I must admit that I was never in control and have no idea what is happening or will happen going forward. This makes me very anxious.
I am addicted to my phone…constantly feeling I must check Facebook, my e-mails, CNN, and the New York Times for all the updates. Most of the time I am better off not knowing what the latest and greatest news is. Right now, my internet is very iffy (I won’t even go into how stressful that is) and I usually have to leave the house and drive miles to find a social-distancing place where I can get a good connection and make sure the world as I know it still exists. I should take advantage of my media break and just pretend things are not getting worse every day but I don’t seem to be able to disconnect.
Some of this angst I bring on myself. I am not sure that reading Daniel Defoe’s The Journal of the Plague Year about London in 1655 during the bubonic plague was a good idea. In some ways it was good because it describes exactly what has been happening with this pandemic (cover ups, denial, misinformation, uncounted deaths). On the other hand, it is pretty discouraging that 350 years later mankind hasn’t changed very much, for good or for bad. We know so much more about disease and epidemics now than we did then, but we still don’t know everything. Defoe and 16th century Londoners found some solace in believing that God brought on the plague and then made it disappear. I don’t believe that, although I am surprised we haven’t seen more claims that COVID-19 is a punishment from God brought on mankind because of our evil ways (select your sin of choice). I am quite sure that there are congregations where that is being preached and people are being admonished to prepare for the “end of days.”
Even watching videos is a challenge. Programs I have seen 10 times are better than new ones because I don’t have to concentrate. I have a boxed set of the 100 greatest Warner Brothers films that I have never opened but I find myself watching Bridget Jones, Love Actually, and LaLa Land instead of new movies.
I want and need to work on my book, but I manage to get through one day after another without even opening the file. I think there is a scripture in the New Testament where Paul talks about wanting to do good, but not doing good. I am not doing bad I am just not doing anything.
Sleep has always been one of my coping mechanisms (eating or drinking alcohol are ways of dealing with stress, but I am trying to avoid those). Still, even I can only sleep so many hours a day.
How are you coping with all that is upending our world? What are you thinking (hoping?) it will all look like in 6 months or a year? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
ANXIOUS IN THE WILDERNESS