Everyone on the planet is reeling right now. Everyone. A mere eight weeks ago, if I had written that, it would have earned me a big red slash mark during editing. Perhaps with the note, “Hyperbole makes for ugly writing!” scribbled to myself in the margins. But now it isn’t exaggeration. It’s a fact. We are, as a whole, globally holding our breaths and wondering what is going to hit us next.
Future generations are going to ask us “What did you do during Quarantine?” Twenty years from now, just like those of us who now share our 9/11 stories, everyone will have a Quarantine story. So what will I say? What’s my Quarantine story? I’m not sure I know.
Here’s what I do know.
I have wished in the past for time to write my ideas and to make things happen for me. I have (more times than I can count!) begged God to relieve the pressure of working for others and deadlines so I could create my own ‘next big thing.’ I wanted desperately to work on MY things. My ideas. Not someone else’s. And now I have that time. Let’s be real. I have all the time.
I want to be able to say I used this time to write an award-winning screenplay. Maybe I crafted or plotted the next great American novel. I want to say that when the entire world stopped turning, I cleaned out the mess in my house and sorted the unruly things in my life. I want to say I planted a garden and learned a new skill. I want to say I came out on the other side better and more together than I was BQ (before Quarantine).
I have a near constant litany of ‘should be’ running through my head. I should be writing. I should be cleaning. I should be exercising. I should read all the books on my TBR list. I should be doing all the things with all this time.
But I’m not.
Instead, I’m constantly processing things that no one in the history of, well, history, has had to figure out before. The mental shifts of continually hearing what’s going to keep my family safe are exhausting. Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. You HAVE to wear a mask. Don’t go out. Stay in your sealed-up home. Get out in the sun. Breathe the air. The virus lives for days outside. The sun kills it. Immunity after you’ve had it. No immunity after you’ve had it. Differing symptoms added to the list every day. It’s an assaultive, loud, ongoing hurricane of information battering me on all sides all the time and my brain just can’t keep up. I can’t keep up.
Did I do enough?
Will I be disappointed in myself for not being productive enough during this time? I hope not. I hope that I’ll remember not sleeping for no perceivable reason. I hope that I’ll remember sitting down to a delicious, hot fresh meal and bursting into tears. Why? Because I just didn’t have the mental capacity to sort through my myriad post-cancer eating issues and figure out how to make it safe for me to consume. I hope I’ll remember the ongoing mental Olympics. I hope I will remember sorting through the onslaught of argumentative posts all over Facebook when I’m just trying to make sure my friends are okay. I hope that I will remember how taxing it was to come up with meal plans and spend sometimes hours on end managing how we will get the ingredients for those meals.
At the end of it all, I’m not going to have a Marie Kondo home. I’m not going to have newly remodeled or completed home improvement projects. I won’t have an entire garden that I’ve cultivated or a pantry full of canned fruits and vegetables. I won’t have written the next great American novel or Academy Award winning screenplay. I won’t speak a new language. I understand this.
I just hope that I will give myself grace in the future to say I weathered the storm the best way I could.