As I contemplated what to write about today, I very much wanted my topic to be something – anything — other than COVID-19 and the constrained lives we are all living as a result. I have a list of more than 300 blog ideas, all of which seemed compelling to me until three weeks ago, when we became consumed by the present situation. Interesting and important as at least some of those ideas may be, they are going to be set aside at least for now in favour of yet another piece about life in the midst of this massive public health crisis.
If only I had more time at home
In my old life, I spent much of my time travelling for work. I loved it and hope to return to it. Soon. However, there were certainly times when I wished I could also have more time at home.
I had a lengthy list of what I would do with that additional time at home: organize photos into albums, create files of electronic photos so that I can actually find the ones I want when I want them, create some photobooks, organize those shelves in the basement and in my office closet, read important books and watch documentaries on television, learn how to draw or paint, engage in various self-improvement projects too embarrassing to list here.
Normally, I am good with a list: write it down, get it done, tick it off.
How many of my “if only I had more time” activities have I undertaken? None. Not a single one. In fact, none of them has even made it onto my daily to-do list.
I came back from San Miguel especially committed to continuing with my tai chi. I had learned some exercises designed specifically to be easy to do in a hotel room so that I would not be able to use the ever-so-convenient “it is too hard to exercise when I am on the road” excuse. And yet, here I am, at home, with a spacious sunroom and backyard, where I could be practising to my heart’s content, and I have not done so much as one stretch.
There’s no shortage of online offerings of activities to improve my mind and soul while also passing the time. I could be taking a virtual forest walk, watching real-time webcams of wild animals going about their daily lives or visiting museums and art galleries around the world
My get up and go has got up and went
I had a number of sanctimonious comments for my kids when they would utter the forbidden words “I’m bored.” Now, though, I want to whine the very same thing. I am bored, or, maybe, restless would be a better word for it.
The sad truth is that I have allowed ennui to settle over me like a soft, warm blanket, seducing me to read yet another lightweight mystery instead of one of the serious books in an increasingly towering pile in my office and to watch the latest trashy offering on Netflix instead of, say, Dirty Money or Planet Earth.
The definition of ennui — a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement – seems to have been written just for me, just for this time.
Others seem to have escaped this trap, using the forced time at home to take on tasks long postponed. One friend confessed that her closet is now the tidiest it has been in two decades. Another is testing recipes for a bird-watching e-cookbook fundraiser. Still another is taking an online drawing course. Another is making quilted face masks. One of my sisters is sewing surgical caps.
I think my daughter ranks first in terms of making the best of a bad situation. She is working full-time from home, supervising her 14-year-old son’s enforced home schooling, checking in daily with her older son who is hunkered down in his Toronto apartment and walking (and walking and walking and walking) her ever-energetic Westie.
But, she has also started growing vegetables from compost scraps, taken up water colour painting from scratch, is taking up the challenge of a local art centre to recreate classic works of art from objects around the house and, with her equally creative partner, has created a pandemic art wall filled with images of their lives over the past month.
No such ambitious activities for me. When I end my workday today, I will be enjoying my now mandatory martini – two shots of gin and three olives as some kind of compensation for the trying times — a generous meal and an evening of Killing Eve. Self-improvement can wait for another day, or week . . . or month.