Lifelines in a time of social distancing

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spot the dog

While in this time of strangeness, isolation, social distancing, and hunkering down waiting, waiting, I’m trying to sort out how to get through each day intact, as whole as possible. I’ve been informed by my children that I must must must limit my intake of coronavirus news; and they’re right; and I’m trying.

But I’ve felt distracted, full of questions about what’s right to do, what’s wrong to do, and whether the decisions I’m making are harming or helping our collective cause, and the individual lives in our immediate family. Last week was a whirl of decision-making, including cancelling The X Page’s remaining workshop sessions and the performance, while making plans for publishing the stories. There was a constantly changing flow of information from public health officials and various levels of government. We found out on Thursday that schools would be closed at least till early April; all soccer cancelled too; just last night, it was recommended that all bars and restaurants in Ontario close or move to take-out or delivery only.

And I’m pretty sure the phrase “social distancing” entered my vocabulary less than a week ago, but now we all know it, and we’re trying to practice it, and to understand why, and to explain it to those people in our lives who don’t see what the point is, exactly.

It’s been a bit too much, while also being not nearly enough. Fears: diffuse; particular; unseen.

And now the late-night talk shows have gone off the air, just when I most need their mixture of news, satire, reassurance and comedy!

So here’s what I’m doing to stay afloat, mentally. I’m not saying it’s all working for me, just that these are the lifelines I’m grabbing hold of today, and did yesterday, and in all likelihood will again tomorrow.

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Meditation. I have a kneeling bench that my dad made for me a few years ago, which is comfortable to sit on yet prevents me from falling asleep. (An habitual problem.) I recommend The New York Times’s guide to meditation, if you’re just getting started. There are also lots of apps to try out (I like Headspace; it’s not free, but you might be able to access a free trial to see if you like it).

Over on Instagram, Elizabeth Gilbert posted an easy-to-do meditation you can bring into any moment of your day, taking notice of a descending list of things all around you. This is my scribbled version, below, and it’s helped me at least once today when I was waiting to wash my hands, as there was a line-up for the bathroom, and I was feeling irrationally irritated about the waiting:

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Podcasts. Below are a few. If you have a favourite, could you please leave your suggestions in the comments? I need more!

The Daily from The New York Times, a podcast that lasts just about long enough for a quick morning run (and, yes, it has been a lot about the coronavirus lately, but the info is solid and trustworthy, not inflammatory).

On Being, a podcast that I sometimes have patience for and sometimes not (it’s dense with spirituality).

Poetry Unbound, a podcast in which a poem is read, discussed, then read again. Episodes are about 11 minutes, the perfect amount of time to sit in quiet mediation.

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Dog walks with Kevin and Rose have also been a balm. However, I cancelled a walk with a friend this morning, perhaps an over-reaction? I just don’t know. Does anyone?

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Finally, here’s one last lifeline, which I’m hoping to share with my writing friends: daily drawing/writing in my notebook. I haven’t done this yet today, but it’s on my to-do list. (That’s yesterday’s cartoon, above.)

Follow this recipe for 10 minutes of bliss: Put on a song at random from my Lynda Barry playlist on Spotify (which has 64 followers at present!); draw a self-portrait to that song; then write for 3 minutes, answering the question: What’s on Your Mind? Or Why Did This Song Choose You Today?

xo, Carrie

To sit with someone I love and just be
"All I Want"

4 Comments

  1. I suggest The Anthropocene Reviewed and The Allusionist. Also Answer Me This, which is exceedingly silly.

    I’m up for Skype chats or equivalent, if you want to talk to somebody other than your family members (I love my family, but, you know…)!

    Reply
    • My sibs and I are going to try out a Zoom conversation tonight, in our respective homes. I agree — I need some contact with people other than my (very lovely and wonderful) kids and husband. What are your thoughts on going for a walk with a friend right now?

      Reply
      • I’m for it, as long as both parties are well, and there’s no hugging/handshaking/high fives. Though I suggested one to a friend yesterday, and she declined, saying that, since she’s telling her kids they can’t visit with friends (because they can’t be trusted not to come into contact with each other or get to close), it’s only fair that she limit that too. And that makes sense. I am also ok with being on the sidewalk and having a chat with somebody who’s on their porch. The weather is supposed to be warmer tomorrow, so that might be more palatable then.

        Reply
  2. Hey, I’m up to 65 followers on my Lynda Barry playlist on Spotify! (I’m a bit worried people think they’re following the actual Lynda Barry … and my playlist is definitely inspired by hers; but I named it after her because I use it while doing her writing and drawing exercises. Come to think of it, this would be a great time to grab a copy of “What It Is” or “Syllabus” or her brand-new “Making Comics.”)

    Anyway … If you want to follow and listen, too, you can find me as “carrieannesnyder” on Spotify.

    Reply

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