Semi-Connected Thoughts

Yesterday I was feeling calm and accepting. I had a whole set of thoughts about normality and creativity. Those thoughts are still true, and I’ll get to them in a moment. First I want to acknowledge that today I don’t feel calm and accepting. Today I keep bumping into ways that the world is different than I’d like. I’m mired in concerns about how my young adults can build independent adulthoods in the current social and economic climate. There are road blocks across many of the paths forward. I’m not sure if we can pursue driver’s license because the DMV may not be open for permit testing. School petered out to a close, which isn’t technically closed yet, might as well be though. The venue where one of my kids was volunteering pre-pandemic has begun to re-open. When they decide to re-launch their volunteer program we’ll have to navigate pandemic anxieties on top of the social anxieties that were already a problem. My head is full of “what if” and contingency plans. I know I need to bring myself back to today and what today needs. But that can be hard when I’m feeling the physiological effects of anxiety. Doing some physical chores helped, but I’m still feeling a bit wobbly.

The calmer thoughts start with all those memes about how great creations came out of their creators being isolated and bored. Naturally there are counter memes telling people not to feel pressured to write the next Great American Novel while they are dealing with a pandemic. Yet we might get a huge creative surge out of the pandemic social shifts. If we do, it won’t be because someone shifted their busy-ness and productivity from what they were doing before into creative work instead. It will be because the enforced pause changes the creators internal landscape and new creativity rises from that.

We have to let the changed society begin to transform us without expectation about the result. The scraping away of non-essentials, and then the return of some of them in different modes, will alter how we view our lives and what we need from them. We will emerge different. Perhaps with more creative pursuits, perhaps with less, perhaps with different ones. Trying to keep ourselves the same, clinging to who we were, is maladaptive and a source of stress. I can feel shifts in my thinking already. I’m changing how I relate to time and to tasks. I’m prioritizing differently. I can’t tell yet what the changes in me will become. It is too soon, but I’m trying to accept it rather than fight it.

In the larger world, most states are showing steady numbers of cases or a decline in cases. This is true even for states that have loosened restrictions. Even for the ones that loosened restrictions weeks ago. I think this means that most people are exercising some level of personal responsibility in not spreading disease. I also think that the warmer weather is having an effect. We may be able to breathe easier for a few months. I just hope that we remember to be careful again in the fall.