Part of my daily routine is to open my computer and check my social media and news sources. For a long time I only had about five places that I checked regularly. That was enough to keep me apprised of events in the world and in the lives of my friends. I’ve added a couple in the past weeks, because I am fascinated by the data around our current global pandemic. It is equal parts fascinating and terrifying. All of my usual places have gotten noisier. Pandemic related news updates by the hour and the minute. Government officials at all levels are passing legislation and making declarations. Part of my morning check in is simply to see how the rules have changed today, so that I can alter my behavior and anticipate what my family will need to weather the altered shape of our lives. Grocery shopping and food resource management occupied a lot of my attention for two weeks as I shifted from being able to run to the store any time I needed something to planning ahead for once-per-week shopping. I’m also reading the news, trying to comprehend what is going on, trying to get my mind to understand it when everything I can see from my front doorstep is so very normal. Then sometimes it swings the other way, and everything becomes too frightening.
Many people are going through the same rounds of emotions. Since humans are pro-social creatures there is this overwhelming desire to do something to help others who are feeling the same things we are feeling. So, along with the increased frequency of mandates, news, and pandemic information, there is also a flood of positivity. There are more pictures of animals. People are posting videos of themselves singing. Services are being offered for free. The online world has opened up with a wealth of enrichment possibilities. This is also noise. It fills my head just as much as the hard things. Because while I’m trying to reconfigure the way I manage food, my work routines, and my children’s education, I also feel like I should be taking advantage of the chance to watch Opera for free, or listen to dozens of audio books, or watch series that are suddenly available to me. There is also the sense that I, as a creative person, should also be creating something to help.
Even on a good day, a normal before-the-pandemic day, my mind is a very noisy place. I’m slowly coming to realize that it is just as important to tune out the positive noise as it is to step away from the hard news and numbers. I will never find my center out there on the internet. It lives inside my bones and I have to quiet everything else down enough that I can listen. Listen to myself. Listen to the quiet voices of inspiration. Listen to the divine which is always there for me once I quiet the noise enough to connect with it. I’m doing my best to use religion-neutral words to describe this source of strength in my life, though my experience of it and framework for it is very much grounded in the tradition I was raised inside. In all the noise, I have been distracted from prayer and from studying scripture. This is a thing my life will be better if I correct. Meditation is not an integral part of my religious framework, but I’ve long felt that building it as a practice in my life would help me stay more centered. I don’t need more noise, more stories, more enrichment, more distraction. I need more quiet to balance out the shifting craziness of living through a pandemic and the probable economic depression which has yet to fully hit.
Now I just need to figure out how to make myself follow through on all these grand thoughts. Building a system which requires a daily exercise of willpower is setting myself up to fail.