Are you finding new freedom in this self-imposed confinement?
Living With Limitations
Social distancing and sheltering in place in the time of Coronavirus have created a unique situation for many of us.
For example, a friend who lives alone is now working from home. This could double the loneliness for her, but at least she can spend more time outside in her yard. And she’s finding ways to connect with friends at a distance. I’ll be seeing her face when we talk via screens this weekend.
I know an older couple in my neighborhood who thrive on shopping and dining out. They will suffer from cabin fever, no doubt. But the neighbors are checking up on them through calls and texts, keeping tabs without touch.
My default mode is homebody. Staying put to avoid contaminating crowds isn’t much of a hardship. Walking in the small creek behind our home is as good as going dancing for me.
However, my husband, Scott, and I have a baby grandson and a daughter and son-in-law who are expecting in June. Should we stay away from them? We adults are trying to decide if full quarantine is smarter than the less extreme social distancing we are practicing. Can we actually keep from seeing and hugging family members? Some unfortunate people are truly cut off from their families. They are choosing this for safety or because someone is sick with this invisible, insidious virus.
The new limitations and tough choices are shocking.
One of my greatest fears is being disconnected from my family. The horrors of history tell of those who’ve suffered in gulags and POW camps. I do not linger long with thoughts of solitary confinement. The idea of forced isolation, alone with no husband, no kids or grandchildren, makes me ask, “How would I fare; would I find a way to be free inside a cell?”
If I had access to books, I would be free to read, read, read. With pen and paper, I could write, free of distraction. But without family interactions, could I survive through meditation or cogitation? Or die a slow death in lonely rumination?
I guess I’ll never be locked up in solitary. But I’m feeling the walls closing in. What do the walls of my home offer that I haven’t grasped? From those whose worries are weightier, I ask, “Are you finding any freedom in this sudden seclusion?”
Chance for Change
Our limited choices, whether chosen or thrust upon us, magnify our chances for positive transformation.
Obviously, no one looks for change by putting on chains. But when we find our wrists shackled by circumstance, we naturally crane our necks for different ways to move, to live, to be. For some people, the challenge is discombobulating. For others, this season is downright earth-shattering. Yet, it’s an opportunity for all to discover freedom within our confines. Our physical, mental, and emotional health depend on our healthy response to this stress.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
I Am Finding Freedom From…
- Choice. Choice can be overwhelming. Like a restaurant with a ten-page menu, my lengthy to-do list is more of a menace than a blessing. Self-employed people, such as Scott and I, wake each morning to a bottomless pit of a list. Or an agonizingly blank slate. Either way, we start from scratch each day. I have been enjoying the simple menu of fewer choices.
- Worries. When the bigger story concerns a killer microbe, I worry less about writing perfect prose or if I should exercise more.
- Myself. Okay, it may be a stretch, but I am free to forget my face for a while. My body, my clothes, the pimple on my nose. Who cares? Yes, many working people are video-conferencing and Face-Timing and Insta-gramming like crazy. But lots of us can just stay in our jammies. Skip the mirror and quit the navel-gazing for a minute.
I Am Finding Freedom For…
- Creativity. More reading, more writing, yay!
- Thinking or not thinking. Quiet sitting or a slow walk are no longer a waste of time. I’ve got lots. Like today: I haven’t accomplished any tasks except trying to write these ideas about freedom. It’s rather liberating.
- Being Present. No outside events call to me. I’m not missing anything because nothing is happening. I am here. Now. In the moment in which I am.
Are You Finding Freedom To…
- Connect with your kids more? Your spouse?
- Let go of a busy schedule?
- Be thankful for what you have?
- Share with others who are suffering more than you?
People suffer without human interaction. This virus crisis amplifies our discomfort. The current limits on our ways of life have added countless new stresses. I suspect, though, we will unearth certain blessings in this mess. What freedoms have you come up with in confinement?
For more thoughts on health, read: 3 Creative Ways to Move Toward Emotional Health