For the majority of my life I’ve prioritized activity over stillness and quiet. It comes from a desire to fill my short life with as much fun as possible a love of experiences. Even as a child, I would go to bed asking “Mom, what are we going to do tomorrow?” I’m yet to be convinced that sleeping is worth the time it takes away from my day, but I’m learning that experiencing more doesn’t necessarily mean doing more. I’m learning how to do less, but experience it more fully.
The shutdown due to COVID-19 has accelerated my shift in perspective. This temporary pause of life as we knew it has come to be a respite, even as guilt whispers in my ear. I’m incredibly thankful to have my health and the liberty to embrace this as time of learning while so many people are experiencing incredible pain.
My expectations of how to spend my time and feelings of “should” have faded away. I can’t tell myself I should be going out to a gallery opening instead of staying in with a book, or playing volleyball on a Saturday morning. Those options are out of the picture. Even though I love all my usual activities, I often felt as if I must do as many as possible in order to get the most out of every day. I sometimes found myself prioritizing quantity over quality.
Instead of speeding through my morning of back-to-back meditation and prayer, a speedy smoothie bowl, and then running off to a workout class before biking to work, I’m now enjoying a leisurely pace. Nothing is eliminated, but instead of focusing on my next activity, I’m trying to stay present in the moment.
I feel the liberty to take time to reflect. Slowly measure the spices for my morning chai. Put the brakes on the race car in my mind while I watch the sunrise and read my bible before starting work.
I feel the freedom to leave my phone in the other room and open a book in the evening. There’s no chance of missing out on a spontaneous tennis game or Wednesday night beer. I’m blissfully free of the attraction of anything outside, and have the freedom to do anything I want with my time.
Ironically, I’ve had that freedom all along.
After shutdown ends, I don’t plan on turning down social engagements or refraining from jumping back into life. I do plan to fully engage with each moment, not thinking about the next thing on my list but allowing myself to appreciate the present moment.