You Can Do Nothing During A Pandemic

The people creating memes during the coronavirus are honestly doing their best work. As someone who avoids bad news like it’s my job, memes are practically my love language. Just when I think the internet can’t get any funnier, Joe Exotic enters the zeitgeist in the best and weirdest way possible.
 
The exception I take to the meme game is the one circulating about how Isaac Newton invented calculus during the Bubonic plague. I appreciate the sentiment that being at home for an extended period of time affords us the opportunity to do something magical.
 
But you know what it also affords us? The opportunity to do nothing.
 
Isaac Newton may have invented calculus during a plague. But maybe the woman who birthed him and raised him and sent him to college was doing the 17th century equivalent of locking herself in her bedroom to binge watch Tiger King on a Thursday afternoon.
 
There is absolutely nothing wrong with coming out of this quarantine a new person with newly acquired skills and perfectly organized drawers. And there is also nothing wrong with coming out of this quarantine exactly the same you went into it (save for finally being caught up on all of your favorite shows).
 
You are surviving a global pandemic, not taking a weekend spa retreat to the Bahamas.
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Perhaps spending 30 days in a row in your house without seeing friends while trying to homeschool your kids and work your job (or maybe you lost your job) with no breaks during a worldwide crisis isn’t the *best* time to become your best self.
 
I paint and clean and organize because that is how I successfully avoid bad news. It’s not because productivity is more valuable than rest. It’s how I survive the unknown.
 
There are many ways to survive a pandemic. Among them:
– consume an exorbitant amount of carbs
– watch allllllll the news
– read
– ignore responsibilities
– excessively post on social media
– create art
– delight in being an introvert
– panic if you’re an extrovert
– do literally nothing
 
None is nobler than the rest. Newton chose Calculus. I am suddenly interested in the underbelly of the Big Cat world. It might be all you can do to get out of bed in the morning. There is no shame in whatever you choose.
 
There is a weird amount of pressure to become amazing during this historical time of social distancing. Some people thrive in chaotic life circumstances. Some people can barely focus on anything. It’s okay to be whoever you need to be. That might even change day to day.
 
I think we forget that there is a lot of life to be lived post-pandemic. This time sort of feels like the weeks leading up to having a baby. You somehow convince yourself that baseboards must be cleaned right now because it feels like there will never be another time to do so. But the baby comes, and you realize none of those nesting chores were as urgent as they seemed.
 
The same is true of a global crisis. Life will eventually normalize. And you can become amazing in July or next year or in 2027.
 
Or maybe, just maybe, you can realize that you are known and loved and valuable just the way you are. Don’t allow your social media feed to cause you to believe otherwise.
 
• The parents acing the homeschool game likely thrive with structure and order.
• The artists creating are doing their part to make the world a brighter place.
• The ones with clean homes and freshly painted walls are letting their kids play way too much Fortnite (ask me how I know).
• The people hiking may feel like their walls on caving in, and the fresh air is the only thing keeping them sane.
• Those posting on social media are showing five awesome minutes of a day that might have ended with crying in the shower.
• And the guy inventing Calculus will be hated by every high school student for the rest of eternity. So maybe he isn’t so amazing after all, you know?!
 
I promised myself I wouldn’t write during this crisis because I didn’t want to add to the noise on social media. With little else to do, there are a lot of words being written and a lot of words being said. But they seem to heavily favor the idea of making this time as productive as possible (hello, the exhausting American way).
 
So I broke my own promise in order to write for those who are barely hanging on by a thread and fighting fear and wondering how this is all going to shake out.
 
Stop feeling guilty if this isn’t the most magical time for you and you seize in fear more than you seize the day. It’s a freaking global pandemic, which is literally the least magical thing to ever happen. Even if you don’t see it when scrolling through Instagram, this is really hard for everyone. And none of us have a clue about any of this. We are all in this together, doing the best we can. You can be whatever and whoever you need to be to survive.
 
And if that includes illegally buying a tiger to keep you company during this lonely time, I happen to know a guy.

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