Time at Home during the Coronavirus Outbreak

In short:

  • Quarantine has put a crack in our tendencies to fill our days from dawn to midnight
  • Staying at home has offered us unscheduled and legitimately free time
  • Keeping busy with whatever the equivalent of our social activities looks like during a week nowadays

Has there ever been a time when humanity has been this much connected (thank you, Internet!) as it is secluded (to hell with you, Coronavirus!)?

It’s ok to admit – looking at you introverts – that for a number of short days when the first restrictions related to the COVID-19 eruption were set in motion with millions of individuals stuck inside their home environments, part of us might have looked at the whole scenario as the long-desired formula for putting a crack in our tendencies to fill our days from dawn to midnight

Suddenly, we found ourselves not really having to be anywhere but on the other side of the room. This is great. We can catch up on all those things we said we would do but never got to even start. We can finally call home and chat with our older relatives for a bit without worrying that we’re going to have to rudely dismiss them in a rush as there aren’t very many tasks on our to-do lists anyway. We can finish that book and write a few lines in that journal and be ever horrified at our handwriting and the fact that our hands hurt after we’ve barely scribbled down a couple of sentences we keep re-reading. Is this coherent enough? Like you’ll ever read it again. But, hey, you’ve jotted down some thoughts during a pandemic, so at least you got that going for you.

And here comes the spot I have to set aside to make a note that is not to be overlooked. My intro narrowly, but not neglectfully, turns the spotlight onto a very privileged category of people who can look at the quarantine as a period in which their screen time has increased and their levels of boredom have reached peaks they haven’t before. However, the existence of this subset of people doesn’t negate the very real millions of others who’ve had to confront unemployment, child care, or disease, one by one or all at once as this pandemic has ruthlessly settled in. 

But for a significant number of us, it looked like unscheduled and legitimately free time had become part of our routines. A global health crisis is powerful like that. Yet, not even a month into the whole ordeal, we might very well be looking at the other side of the coin. In an attempt to “normalize” our time in isolation, we might have overzealously said yes to one too many online courses or events. So, we’re back to being fully booked virtually as we were IRL. By our own hands.

The fact that people generally work way more hours than they should and that our professional and personal lives get mixed up is something that doesn’t escape the perception of the majority of us. If we’re lucky enough we could yearn for the weekends had they remained not intruded by “urgent”-labeled emails. It’s gotten so bad you might even feel a tinge of guilt for stubbornly not attending to whoever needs your expertise Saturday night.

When we’re not allowing ourselves to be drowning in work tasks, we keep busy with whatever the equivalent of our social activities looks like during a week nowadays. The happy hours you looked forward to, your yoga classes, the cool lectures you’ve signed up for have only been paused long enough to have been moved online. You resumed them. When you’ve been set to pack your days with doing something productive, whatever your definition of the term, it’s only natural for you to seek to do the same no matter the circumstances. The last thing one needs is to start questioning the meaning of life at a time where they must focus on survival, right? And if we’re staying busy, surely we must have added some kind of meaning to our lives. A discussion for another time. Promise. 

Maybe we could all take advantage of this rare chance of getting to hit pause on our wild chases. This time away from others holds a kind of potential that can be hard to spot simply because of our collective lack of familiarity with it on this scale. 

If you can nail a new recipe by the time all this will be over, it wouldn’t have been a complete torment on you. 

All the places you can’t travel to right now, you can check out their cultures and extend your vocabulary so that when you’ll finally walk those lands, you’ll have a better mental map of how you can make the best of your time there. 

It’s not all bad, the optimists might shyly assess. And perhaps we should find it in ourselves to not scoff at them just this time. 

Stream of consciousness

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