Last Updated on June 22, 2022 by Alex
I hated being locked down, and locked in. Then I began to love it.
Wait. No. But I’ve come to appreciate it.
What changed: pushing through the discontent and moving my life forward in ways that are actually available to me.
Since we’re going to spend this time largely indoors, often in our heads, and we can make the most of it. We may as well.
I admit, it isn’t always easy. We live in a downtown apartment. It’s confining and crazy making sometimes to spend so many hours at home. And yet it’s becoming one of the most productive times I have had in years.
I’ve found new home workouts. I’m learning Romanian online. I’m learning about how to create websites (like this blog). I’m writing flash fiction.
Yes, and cooking and dealing with the messy house, kids at home from school and all the rest.
I may never look back fondly on this time of fear and worry, but I am going to be able to look back and know I didn’t waste the opportunities that this unique situation provided.
Here are some things to do:
- Meditate more, and if you don’t know how, learn. Meditation is as natural to being human as love and longing. We are self conscious, we are aware of being aware. Sitting in formal meditation has been a part of human life for millennia. Our crazy, hectic world makes contemplation harder and harder—except now. Now many of us have more time on our hands than ever before. There are many different kinds of meditation and countless meditation teachers. Not each is as good as the other. Look around for someone who really knows what they are doing. One of my favorite teachers is Alan Wallace of the Santa Barbara Institute. Alan has put guided meditations from his 8 week retreats online.
- Master a physical skill. Think the one armed pushup, the splits, juggling. Get stronger, more flexible, and better coordinated. Don’t practice yoga? Now is the time to learn.Exercise…all the time. Related to the previous, yes, but not exactly the same. I’ve got my pushup bars on the carpet next to a 20kg sandbag, near pull-up bars hung over a doorway. I don’t know how many leg lifts, pull-ups, pushups or squats I do in a day. I don’t count. I just do them…all the time. Short sets, long sets, multiple sets, single sets. Whatever. All the time. Is it paying off? Um, yeah. Do your own thing, and do more of it than ever.
- Learn a productive skill. From accounting to writing HTML to vlogging, you can find online courses for little or no money. I like Udemy but any online course platform will do. Dive in. Best of all to dive in to something you’ve been wanting to do anyway but have put off.
- Practice an art. What inspires you? Is there a song inside of you that you’ve been smothering? Haiku, flash fiction, watercolors, singing…We have amazing resources at our fingertips. Adults have mostly forgotten what they knew as children: we are all (also) artists. Begin to practice an art, and you will remember.
- Read. Be radical and read real books. You know, the ones with paper pages, colorful covers and ink. Read literature, something really good, something that might change your life. Best of all, read to someone else. I am reading the Illiad to my son and it’s one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.
- Write letters. Sounds insane, but imagine the look on your mother’s face when she gets that 10 page letter in the mail from you.
- Keep a journal, write the story of your life and assess where you are and where you want to go. How often do any of us really take the time to reflect deeply on our lives? Mostly we are living on auto-pilot, vaguely aware of the past and how it has led us to the present, obsessing about this or that event but missing the big picture and failing to ask ourselves serious questions. A journal in which you write the story of your life, starting with your earliest memory, and then reflect on it will change you. I promise.
- Downsize. I’ve had the minimalist dream for years. I admit, it’s remained a dream but it’s one I can picture very clearly, and I know it begins one drawer, one corner of the house at a time.
- Organize your laptop. Enough said. Extensions of this one: organize (and backup, if you haven’t) your photos, and purge and organize your email.
- Write that gratitude letter you’ve been meaning to write. We all have people we haven’t adequately thanked. Having written a couple of heartfelt gratitude letters I can honestly say there is nothing like it to lift you up. Just nothing. Because when you get in touch with gratitude and really feel it it’s like being touched by the hand of God. Love, energy, happiness—it’s all there, contained in this little humble act.
- Start to learn a language, or make progress on one you’ve already started. For me it’s Romanian (my wife is Romanian) using Duolingo. I love the app, it just works for me. I give it up to 20 minutes a day and that’s enough to get farther down the road. Depending on how long the lockdown in our city lasts, maybe far down the road.
- Make your own list of things to do while you’re locked down and do those.
Being locked down isn’t easy. Boredom, lack of motivation, repetition—it can get to you. Pushing through the negativity to being productive, getting grounded and moving your life forward can move you from dragging yourself through this to experiencing moments of true satisfaction and well-being.
Circumstances are what they are. There are a lot of things we can do to control how we respond to them.