This is not another list of ideas or activities, telling you how to fill your quarantine time—that is if you have the privileged choice of being able to shelter in place rather than work amidst the growing pandemic in our country. What I’ve learned from this massive shift in our daily lives is not from actually shifting my physical space of learning to more home-based projects, but rather learning from the way that people are responding to this crisis, and how inflexible and narrow focused many of us can be when it comes to what we view as “productive”.
I’ve seen dozens of articles, Instagram posts, and YouTube videos all inadvertently portraying how we can continue with the status quo, staying busy- and try to “utilize” this time to our own benefit. Start producing more online content, write an academic paper, read more novels, etc.- and while all those are great ways to spend a day inside, the fact that people feel the need to tell others what they “should” do, how to react and what counts as valued time in isolation, is in essence, a reflection of our capitalist, androcentric values and programming as a collective.
Our current paradigm is one in which humans are seen as machines, measured and operationalized by their outputs, viewed as controllable and predictable by the inputs. Humans in the current economy are largely valued by what they can produce (measurably) and consume (materially) in a given period of time; there is no consideration of the depletion of resources- physical, mental, environmental or energetic. I think the most important thing we can learn from a slowing, (or even “halt”) in our current economic system is that we ought to consider the value of long-term growth, replenishment and care. We ought to consider the toll and exploitation of individuals and how that ultimately takes a toll on the collective of humanity (coronavirus doesn’t discriminate…) and makes us vulnerable to uprising, upheaval and a lack of peace in ourselves and in society.
We may have created an incredibly efficient society and economy, one that operates like a well-oiled machine– pushing, producing, growing. But, we have not created one that has the ability to continue this way indefinitely. The current system does not take into account that we cannot control nature (including human nature) and force our way to the outcomes we desire—we need to begin to trust and respect the natural ebb’s and flows of life rather than seeing our world as one to manipulate for personal gain and survival, like one line on a growth chart moving infinitely upwards to the top right corner.
“Nature is just enough; but men and women must comprehend and accept her suggestions.”
– Antoinette Brown Blackwell
The dollar does not reward the care and passing of wisdom on from generations in raising children, yet the value of childrearing sits at the basis of our entire economic and social fabric. So although the dollar does not directly reward those who rebel against the constant busyness, there will be returns far beyond what you could ever receive economically when you give yourself space and time to tune in to the needs and callings from your inner self (relationships, an ease and a flow through which you operate through life, and a sustainable peace within you)– and isn’t that what we all want? We have been programmed to believe the dollar will bring us that inner peace and joy, but that is simply not true.
When you begin to trust in the wellbeing of our collective, and can slowly release the fears and nagging’s of the anxious, controlling mind, you will begin to free yourself from the distractions and expectations that keep you from receiving the timeless insights, ideas and inspiration that are truly aligned to who you are and what will bring the most peace and joy into your life.
So what I propose is not to do more at home projects or busy work (there’s nothing wrong if you feel called to, but if you feel like you “should”, let that go), but rather begin to examine your relationship with your worth and how capitalism and your environment has instinctually programmed certain beliefs in you. What is your relationship to scarcity? Do you feel less than because you’re not “doing”? Are you uncomfortable without your old identity and the story about who you were disintegrating (who are you without your gym routine, high intensity job, or large social circle surrounding you)?
We are not worker bees in an endless production line. We must wake up and become aware of the programming and thought patterns that have been conditioned in us from society and our environment and no longer take them as our own. Tuning in will give you the leverage of alignment, because when you are taking action from a place that feels right, rather than forced action, it will be far more effective and “productive”.
Believing you have to “do everything” during this time at home comes from a mindset that time to rest and to go inward is scarce, and that time just being is not a valuable asset to you or society. But society NEEDS people who are awake, who are aware and in tune with themselves and what the universe is communicating through them. This is how we expand our level consciousness beyond what we have inherited– that is how we grow as a collective, not by moving up on the profits chart.
I challenge you to look inward and just sit. What is your body communicating to you, what is your heart pulling you towards? And if it feels overwhelming or like the voice you hear is driven by fear, I invite you to just sit with that and be aware of that too. It’s all okay. In reality, all of these endless lists of activities and to do lists and countless working hours are just distractions. Distractions from what we might uncover when we sit with ourselves. But once we listen and no longer fear the uncomfortable thoughts and emotions that are living inside of us, we take our power back to truly create, and these programmed patterns no longer run our lives as we hold space for all that is expressing through us.