In A Pandemic, Surviving Is Enough
Last week I didn’t put on a pair of jeans. The vantage point from my computer screen is chest up, so no one in my Zoom meetings was privy to what was going on from the waist down. What did it matter anyway? I’m still showing up for work. I’m still showering regularly. I’m eating home-cooked fairly healthy meals. If that’s the amount of output that I can manage during a pandemic, so be it.
Self-righteous people are getting on their soapboxes declaring that if an individual doesn’t use this excess of time to launch that (enter form of productivity or creativity here) then this time was somehow wasted and that the dream isn’t the problem, you are.
Whoever is tweeting or making memes about dropping the next Reasonable Doubt in the middle of the pandemic reeks of privilege. You must not be juggling kids while managing your own workload. You must not be on the front lines fighting this virus-like the doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, and custodians. You must not be concerned about paying rent, knowing where your next meal is coming from, or if you are in direct danger of contracting the virus. So go ahead, finish that screenplay, because you have the time and the means to do it.
Calling someone lazy or undisciplined oversimplifies the psychological trauma and systems that keep people stuck. Laziness has been the GOP scapegoat for decades. Productivity is capitalist propaganda that tells us that if we’re not killing ourselves with work, then we are worth nothing. I shame myself enough already, I don’t need the whole damn internet shaming me too.
Unless you’ve survived the Spanish Flu, then none of us have the playbook of what to do and how to manage in the time of a pandemic. Everything is completely uncertain. I’m on week 3 of my quarantine and I may have two more weeks or 20 more weeks of this, who knows. This is not normal and we should not be made to feel like it is; nor should we be made to feel like different methods of coping are better than others.
In this pandemic, the only thing we are responsible for is ourselves and the people who may depend on us. The only thing we are really responsible for is practicing more self-compassion and sharing that compassion with others. We are all just doing our best in uncertain times. In a pandemic, surviving is enough.
If you’ve managed to get up this morning and wash your ass (and hopefully your legs) and changed from your night PJs to your day PJs, you did good and I applaud you.