May 11, 2020

For the Love of my Dog, can we all just Take a Breath?

Read: Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


I was f*cking wiped after the middle two weeks of March.

Thanks for the slap in the face, but I wasn’t looking for it at the time.

I remember swiping up on the email app on my iPhone more than I’d texted my ex when we’d just started dating. If I checked it after two hours, I’d have seven or eight emails discussing closures, alterations, delays, policies, skyrocketing my heart rate and blood pressure along with, I’m guessing, everyone else’s.

What a long damn month.

I don’t want to read another survival guide, or about how to work from home, how to build a schedule—how to anything. I got it, thank you. I’m pandemic’d out.

Yes, this is impacting our mental and physical health. Yes, we need to do things like make a schedule, eat regularly, and make sure to get some human contact in any way possible. But for the love of my dog, can we all just take a breath?

Before this adventure, I was steadily trucking along with work, therapy, lifting, school, writing, and self-improvement. I had fallen into the groove of a new semester. I was excited for a spring break to write a 25-page literature review on attachment and trauma (as a sidenote for the curious, I’m getting an A on the now-finished project).

Then, slam! Life stops. Everything closes. I feel as if I’m on hold, waiting for things to start up again.

For a while, the statements “F*ck no, this is stupid. What the living hell, universe?” and, “I’m not okay with this” were staples—even while I held the understanding that, yes, social distancing is a way to help us prevent deaths and protect people.

I was furious. I had just fallen into the speedy groove and was pumped to accomplish a smorgasbord of things, and suddenly all my plans were foiled. My goals as an athlete were quickly pushed to the wayside with gym closures, exams I was ready to be done with were delayed, job offers were frozen or pulled, and since I was furloughed from work, saving up for graduate school stopped.

Couldn’t we have done this at a different time? One that I would have been more okay with?

For three weeks, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I hated having all the pent-up energy of a cheetah with nowhere to go. I didn’t want to slow down, stop, or rest, and tried to refuse to, because I’d finally figured out how to speed up.

Turns out railing against something I could do nothing about sucked a ton of energy and got me nowhere. Surprise!

Someone needed to tell me to take a damn breath.

Luckily, they did. A mentor of mine said, “Well, what are you going to do? Email the governor and ask him to open gyms again because you can’t take a pause from your goals?”

I laughed, but she made a fair point.

What the hell was so important in what I was doing that I couldn’t take a minute and pivot?

Well, nothing, if I’m honest.

And with a thousand complaints and a whole lot of angst, I pivoted. And here we are. I’m currently relishing in the fact that I can spend all morning, if I’d like, lying on my new grey sheets, in the cozy sunlight of the windy spring days, while eating another book from the universe of “The Witcher” with few, if any, consequences.

Okay, yes, I’m privileged and lucky that in the last month of my last semester of college, I have enough support plus a remote job I located starting in a week on the way. In terms of the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy, I’m secure enough to be able to take a minute.

It was still incredibly difficult for me not to be as productive. My internalized ideals of capitalism, not having enough time, and needing to always be “doing” got in the way of even seeing a new way of functioning for a pretty substantial chunk of time. Boy, did that exhaust me.

The idea of rest seemed ludicrous. Then, during an early too-chilly walk where I was bored of music and tired of seeing the same neighborhoods over and over, I put on a podcast that broached the idea of rest as resistance. My angst was like, “Woah, could we—erm—maybe do that instead?”

Slowly, with some hesitance, I explored the idea of getting enthusiastic about rest in a slightly counterculture way that satisfied my need for resistance while also allowing me to protect myself and others.

I started showing myself how rest has benefit.

Most of my motivation came out of reducing the dark circles under my eyes and possibly having less acne—because I’m a 22-year-old who’s still a bit vain.

I spent some time educating myself in the now too much at home time I had, and learned how rest is a way to resist the ideals that feed big business. Plus, not doing things allowed me space to get more in tune with my body. Interestingly enough, while I’ve been doing less, I’ve noticed myself able to feel more aches and pains that I’d clearly ignored for a bit too long. Some symptoms might actually indicate a more significant issue.

And after two months of writer’s burnout, I typed something up.

The idea of burnout comes from our overactive culture. As I’ve learned from The Nap Ministry, it is not a normal part of existing in the world.

Besides, the extra space of this stillness allows me to sleuth through information clearly and critically at a time when being able to parse through fake media is almost paramount for survival.

All in all, I’m a little rusty with the words, and a little choppy with transitions, but glad for both rest and imperfection, even though this entire experience is a slap in the face—one that does, I think, leave me with more energy to hold the soul-sucking reality of corrupt government, needless death, and injustice.

But only if I keep taking a breath.

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