Whether we like it or not, recent world events have forced most of us to hit the pause button. For some, that pause comes at a relatively decent place where we can stop and see it as an opportunity (if we can set aside our anxiety long enough.) For others, the pause has us teetered on the brink of a freefall that we cannot even begin to see the end of or how we will land.
No matter where we are, all we can do at this point is wait. Wait and stay home and see if that will be enough to flatten the curve.
It’s the ultimate dichotomy, isn’t it? We’ve been given this great chunk of time where the best thing we can do is stay home and tend to ourselves (surely a writer’s dream!) and yet we are so filled with uncertainty and stress and anxiety that we can barely focus on anything but the news and the horror of it all as it unfolds.
Waiting is often a passive state where we feel out of control. But waiting does not have to be passive. It’s possible, even healthy, to take this waiting period that we have been given and use it to do something proactive, life affirming.
When the world is on fire around us, there can be nothing more helpful for our mental health than to lose ourselves in the flow of something, whether it be a hobby, a craft, a passion, or a calling. It might seem an awful lot like fiddling while Rome burns, but once you’ve ensured that your fire alarm battery is working and watered your roof, really, what else is there to do?
Start a garden. Adopt a house plant. Sewing, knitting, origami, drawing, painting, book art, collaging with found things in your home, yoga. YouTube videos abound on an incredibly vast array of new skills—some we’ve longed to try for ages. Now is the time to do that, to lose yourself in that kind of being. Allowing yourself to find a way to create in a chaotic world—to enter a flow state of being—is the biggest gift you can give yourself. It gives your ravenous brain something healthy to chew on rather than junk food.
I want to be clear that I’m not talking about advancing our careers or hitting word counts or being productive. For most of us, this experience is a little too traumatic for that. I am talking about finding a path to escape, just for a little while, the unremittingly heavy burden of the time we’re living in, by losing ourselves in the act of creation. No pressure or strings attached.
Since most of us here are writers, that seems the obvious thing. For many of us, our ability to lose ourselves in deep focused work and the flow of creativity will offer a welcome respite. But how you might ask. How are we to do that with all the news events swirling around us and all the ugly news piling up?