A blog post? In March? How is this possible?
Well, as with many things right now, it’s all thanks to COVID-19. But I recently saw an article being posted around my Facebook feed that got me thinking about this particular time in all of our lives and how it’s affecting us in different ways.
You might’ve seen the article yourself – it’s about how to ignore all the covid-inspired productivity you’re seeing. To sum up, in case you don’t want to read it for yourself, it’s basicially saying that to rev up into hyper-active mode is to assume that things will eventually get back to normal, whereas the author proposes that what we thought of as “normal” before will never return.
After I read it, I wasn’t defensive, per se, but I did wonder why I didn’t necessarily agree. I mean, my go-to mode is lazy. Those who know me well – like, mainly, my Jones immediate family and offspring – will agree. But even those of my dearest friends may scratch their heads, because I’m usually busy. VERY busy. In fact, this is what has been canceled for the months of March, April, and May in my schedule in just the last two weeks:
- Two nearly-full mixed media printmaking classes
- A papermaking class that I do yearly at our local university
- A very nice week-long residency
- My curatorship at our library’s gallery until at least May
- A big art fair (possibly two)
- Two private classes for large groups
- A talk I was supposed to give for the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries
- A solo exhibit at our local university
- Our local gallery walk
- My tech school classes for the remainder of the semester
So I had a fairly full plate. 🙂
When the cancellations started coming in, my first thought was about all the money I was going to be losing. What gave me comfort was that we’re all in this together, and we’ve all tried to help each other out. It is very important to me that I “pull my weight” in our household finances, be it with monetary income or by saving money with home economizing. So the loss of income hurt. But after the initial shock, I started realizing what a gift I had been given.
I rarely have enough of it, it seems. But as I’m about halfway through Week 3 of a self-quarantine, and I am of the firm belief that if you can stay home, you MUST stay home, I find myself with an abundance of it. (It is here that I should tell you that I don’t have kids that I need to worry about – that is a whole other ball of wax and if you are dealing with the onset of trying to home-school and figure things out, you need to just do what you have to do, with NO judgment from me or anyone else. Same goes for those of you who are dealing with a spouse being laid-off or any other high-stress incident that has occured, especially [and g-d forbid] illness.)
Two things that haven’t left me are a 30-print exhibit at the end of April in conjunction with World Migration Day at Ubuntu in Fond du Lac, and the opportunity to show my work at Cappaert Contemporary Gallery in Door County. Because of these two wonderful series, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy until at least the end of April.
Even without those things, though, I will not allow myself to “take it easy”. Unfortunately, if I go that route, the bad feelings emerge. I just can’t allow the fear to take over. If I even go one week “on vacation” from my work, it will become two, then three, then more. In my 51 1/2 years on this planet, I’m finally getting to know the real me – and that real me has had agorophobic tendencies in the past, periods of years where I couldn’t open the drapes in my house, and years where all I did was watch TV and maybe get showered and dressed that day. I didn’t exercise, I didn’t visit friends, I didn’t care about much except my family and their well-being. Most people don’t know these things about me. But if I allow the fear to become depression – well, many of you DO know what that’s like. And since we’re under a self-imposed agorophobia anyway, I really don’t want to make it worse.
Plus, I’ve finally found something that I can lose myself in, whenever I can. And that’s art. I believe that for many of us, our respective passions will be the saving grace of this ordeal. No, I KNOW they will be. And that’s where I may not agree with the initial article. I feel like if you’re lost – and hey, aren’t we all feeling that way right now? – it’s actually okay if you do practice whatever makes you lose yourself and the bad feelings that have arisen. Because like the first article states, you’re in denial/refusal of facts if you’re feeling good during a crisis like this. But if art, or cooking, or exercise, or whatever it is that floats your boat makes you feel better, then you owe it to yourself to dive right in and find that Happy Place. If you’ve been given this extraordinary gift of time, I say, make the most of it. Savor that work on your easel. Create that pie you haven’t had time to make. Go ahead and plan for that half-marathon you’ve always wanted to do, but maybe were afraid to do before. Let something amazing define this period of time, so that when you think back to the Spring of ’20 you’ll think “yep, that’s when I first started knitting/tai chi/reading War and Peace, and I wish I had that kind of time again.”
If this is how you fell “authentic”, then you do you! 🙂