by Tanya Ruckstuhl LICSW
Here in Washington state, our governor just clamped down restrictions to slow the spread of the Corona virus and prevent deaths. In this strange time, we must minimize contact with the outside world. Our winter rituals have changed. No longer do we gather in extended family and friend groups around a table filled with communal food. No longer do we lighten the dark, chilly days with the warmth of our tribe.
Collectively we are in the wilderness, looking for ways to find comfort and remember: even the longest winter ends. And then comes spring. We are left hoping. Hoping a decent vaccine will be made. Hoping our world will return to some semblance of safe-enough. Hoping to return to our offices and schools. Hoping we can once again take up our petty concerns and stop tracking projected body counts.
When my twins were born, premature and medically fragile, I looked forward to the day I could get mad at them for stupid things: leaving socks on the floor, refusing broccoli. Trivial annoyance meant they were safe, and I longed to be free of the terror of their deaths. (I got my wish. So. Many. Piles. Of. Objects…So. Much. Food. Pickiness.)
We don’t think about irritation as evidence of good luck, but guess what people in real crisis are not doing? They are not thinking about who owes them a text back or how many weeds in their own yard came from the neighbor’s non-gardening.
There are some deep healing opportunities within this Covid restriction time. We live in a cornucopia of distractions: the news, Netflix, pasta, Paris, Amazon, beer, books, pot, porn, gambling, virtual farming, cat collecting, this world offers distraction 24/7.
With Covid getting worse, some of those distractions are no longer available. Loss of distractions is uncomfortable at first. What do we do with ourselves? With our time? We can comfort ourselves by doubling down on the ones that are still in our grasp. Numbing out with food and television was already a national pastime before Covid, and it’s only become more common.
Or we can try something else. With the television off and phone down, there is an opportunity to sit alone in the company of our own consciousness. Try this. Take stock of what you notice, feel, and think.
In this moment I’m sitting in my sweet little backyard office. The space heater is noisy. The amber light bulbs above my desk cast a weak ring of light. It’s still dark out, and the shapes of the tree branches shade the sky. I’m tired but also proud of myself for waking up early. I’ve been wrestling with non-writing, trying and failing to become more productive. I wish I craved writing like I crave coffee. But I don’t. I regret this.
If you want to grow emotionally, to be more resilient and kinder there is a simple way. All we have to do, in any given moment, is to notice and then tolerate whatever feelings arise. The good feeling ones and the bad feeling ones have this in common: They won’t last forever. A moment of irritation will turn into a moment of gratitude and then we might feel hungry. Or bored. Or overwhelmed. Or sad. Or playful. Or focused. Or inspired.
Today I’m going to try and tolerate feelings, one moment at a time.
7 thoughts on “What To Do When There’s Nothing To Do”
Beautiful, Accurately sharing what you and all of us are experiencing in our own way. And then, gently challenging yourself, and all of us, to find our way out. Thanks
Feelings suck! Ha ha. Great post as always. Keep writing. It’s so good.
Oh Misheel: I miss you! I hope you and your family are doing well in this whacko time!
thank you, dear Tanya – so beautifully said, so true, a reminder that this time of change is an opportunity to come to know ourselves in another way – and it will take us through all you mentioned – again and again – and can also bring us to a peaceful foundation that allows/supports all else that is….which also comes, and goes, like the tide…..
sending love, Morgan
Thank you Dear Morgan! Wishing you and Bill a wonderful holiday season and looking forward to gathering again when it’s safe to do so. Miss you!
Hope you and the boys are well.
I always love your posts and want to share on facebook, but can’t find the link to do this.
Is there an easy way to share or are you not wanting this?
Teri Jo Wheeler Home & Life Organizer http://www.HomeSOULutions.net USA Cell: 310-907-6846
“Less presents, more Presence.”
Hello Teri Jo! I am no longer on Facebook–it was not feeling like a satisfying way to spend time, so I deleted my profile. I think they make it hard to post if you are not part of the system. But I’m so happy you enjoy my posts and have no problem being shared if you can figure out how. Happy holidays to you!