Staying Sane During the Quarantine

The quarantine will test your sanity. Even I, somebody molded by the darkness, can fall too deep if I don’t tread carefully. Some will try to drag you down quicker. This is how I keep myself together when I’ve spent a little too much time in my house.

Avoid social media. Especially Twitter. Twitter is the physical manifestation of hell, tempered only by memes. You will only find misery and anger, panic and ignorance. Some people get off on panic, and they will be the ones who pollute your feed. So will the conspiracy theorists who insist nothing is wrong. At the very least, treat social media like alcohol: enjoyable in moderation, but too much will turn you into a drunk, and not the fun kind either.

Keep in touch with friends and family though. Even the introverted need a dose of society now and then. When too distant, I become more cynical, and I grow to distrust those I love until I see them again, at which point it feels like waking from a bad dream. Now is a good time to use social media for good for once! Skype parties? FaceTime conversations? Might not be as good as the physical alternatives, but preferable to isolation.

Stay physically ands mentally active. I already miss the yoga studio and the gym, but I can practice yoga and exercise at home. I can also read, write, practice the violin, draw, and do everything else on which I procrastinate. There are so many things worth doing at home, and doing these things will keep your mind and body intact, and like drinking water, it may not be as sweet as doing nothing, but you will feel better for it.

Have boundaries with work. Working remotely is a mixed blessing: It guarantees a continued income, but it also means you have to work. I have already noticed that some people will work well into the night and will send me messages long after I clocked out. I used to feel obligated to respond immediately, but nowadays, I will turn off the notifications after a set time. I can help them with whatever they need, but that does not mean I should. It can probably wait until the morning. Don’t allow work consume your life just because others will.

Find the opportunity in the missed opportunities. I created a new mantra earlier this year as I struggled with staying home instead of going out even when I knew I should. I could never choose solitude over society. Society bloomed with potential while I already knew what roamed in my head. Now I have no choice but to choose solitude. Honestly, I am looking forward to this part. I wanted to cultivate a strong home yoga practice. Now I can! I could never find the time to read or write, but less time on the road means more time in my library! I wanted to eat less junk and eat more homemade food. Considering how anxious even delivered foods make me, that’s definitely going to happen now! This is going to be such a tragic time for so many people. I may not even be immune, but I do think I am in a much less vulnerable position, and I don’t want to squander this time. I can become a better person through this crisis. Not only will it benefit my own life, but I can be of better service during a time when many lives will rely on the compassion and mercy of others. What else will I do with my time?

The Half-Hearted Life

Took a little break for myself this past week. Had a plan, but did not follow it, as usual; I juggle too many activities and too many people to fit all the time I went for each of them in a day. As much as I want to write 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo this year, there is way too much happening for me to prioritize that. I will write though, and I do write, and while I write, my inner critic rebukes me: “You’re half-assing this. Either do it right or don’t do it at all.”

It’s always the same, whether I write, practice yoga, play the violin, or even play video games: I am not doing it right, and I should call it quits today and try again the next day. Maybe I do half-ass everything, because nothing truly real or impactful. Maybe I expect too much from life. After the novelty evaporates, everything becomes a grind, but I’d rather grind away at a keyboard than do nothing at all.

I half-assed my way through college, riffing in my essays more so than researching them, but they all turned out well, because in the end, I had enough pride in my work that I did not want to turn in garbage. Maybe I could have done so much more with them, but the imagination runs wild and sometimes disappoints me. Most poems into which I poured my whole heart are not ones I like now, while some poems I wrote in a single draft became my favorites. Effort does not necessarily lead to quality, but my goals will, because even if I am not living as passionately as I want, if I make steps toward those goals, I will eventually reach them, and the outcome will be the same.

I do not care if I write 50,000 words or only 25,000 this month as long as I establish better writing practices. It will never feel good enough to please my inner critic, but I can shut him up by reminding him of his own sins. It requires focus on the process instead of on goals that oftentimes feel unattainable while trusting those goals will lead me in the right direction. Allowing both to serve their purposes rather than relying too much on the process or the goal, the present or the future, will allow everything to settle in their proper places, and it will not feel like such a balancing act.

My Reality

I end the year where I began, but with brand new eyes and direction. The year had its share of disappointments and anxieties, but the anxieties hardened my diamond dust heart, and the disappointments freed the hellfire within. How many times had I returned to the past until I realized that the soul I sought was not a mate’s, but the reflection of my own? Fortunately, my fairy blood hides the age that would confess my failures. That’s what always frightened me most: not the failure, but the appearance of it on me.

True sight has revealed that the masks you wear hide not beauty, but disfigurement no less vulgar than mine. You conceal yours; I flaunt mine. Why shouldn’t I? I am now unbound by gravity, and I wield the same magic as everybody else. Arguably more. I do not wish to wage proxy wars for a traitor anymore. I want to stay home and work on things. For what purpose? I no longer know—is anything real?—but it doesn’t matter. I conclude there is nothing worth chasing in the world, and the high ones already stand beside me. I have everything I need. I want more of me.

I want my waverly roots to settle into the soil. I want glamour to gleam on my face and my tongue. I want a bigger home to spread my wings. I want to learn how to fly and not just to leap. I will accept your reality, but I will remain in my dream.

A hybrid can withstand these things.

Throwing the Past Away

After my parents cleaned out their storage room, I rediscovered my high school yearbooks. I might have kept them if the signatures left inside hadn’t reminded me why I made no effort to keep in touch with my acquaintances of that era. Even when I saw my best friend from junior high in an art class I took at junior college, I did not talk to him; I preferred the company of the two thirty-year-old mothers beside me. That I never saw them afterward either felt appropriate; I was still lost in transition.

I don’t hate the people, but I hate the past. I have no fond memories of it outside of daydreams and music, and those only served to sedate me in my inadequacies. I have nothing to show for those years; I no longer even have count them as part of my life. Sure, all those regrets and mistakes shaped me into the person I am now, but what more will those memories do for me?

I’ll preserve the music, the video games, and the passion, but the people and the memories can go right into the graveyard. I have new people to befriend and new memories to make. This new life fulfills me so much that I no longer harbor fantasies of returning the past and redoing everything right; even if I could, I know the success I could gain would not compensate for what I’d lose. As much as I regret the past, all those years spent inside my head molded me into the person I always wanted to be. Thank you, Past. Thanks for making me a fighter. Now go away.

Psyching Up

This is the moment when the Sunny Sky needs to be at its brightest and the High Tide needs to be at its fullest. The Sea focuses me on the Moon, but what is the Moon? Is it a person or a thing? Is it an idol or a lifestyle? Perhaps the Moon has become a colony of many things and people that draw me up. Pull toward the Moon, and add another drop, then another and another. Resurface and drown everything.

Death, where is thy sting?

Emily Dickinson’s poetry is often short and cryptic but also rich with emotion and imagery one can appreciate even if they cannot fully decipher it. A versatile woman who wrote of nature, death, love, religion, and even feminism, she had a unique perspective on everyday sights. She was able find the beauty in death and the melancholy in joy. The following is one of the latter:

From all the Jails the Boys and Girls
Ecstatically leap –
Beloved only Afternoon
That Prison doesn’t keep

They storm the Earth and stun the Air,
A Mob of solid Bliss –
Alas – that Frowns should lie in wait
For such a Foe as this –

Like Emily, I dwell on death and misery too much. Death’s contours are accentuated most by a joyful sight, such as children at play. I suffer the same thoughts Emily did when I see a happy child. The joy empathy blesses me when I see one quickly sours as reality reminds me of the cruelties of the world. Some children will die early, some will grow wicked, and some will suffer atrocities no loving god would allow. I’d prefer to avoid such thoughts, but such hardships happen too frequently to ignore.

I don’t voice such worries, because I don’t want to frighten away everybody with my pessimism. Instead, I muffle them with videogames and alcohol. But to read a common thought of mine written by my favorite poet eases the sting with which Death bullies me. It’s become an incantation to repel that demon far enough to where I can’t hear his bark anymore.

I can enjoy joy again.