The past two weeks have been strange for me. Two weeks ago, I started a ten-day vacation. Of course, I wasn’t able to go anywhere or do anything except stay in my own apartment for those ten days. The only difference between the vacation days and the rest of my quarantine was the fact that I wasn’t checking work e-mail or doing anything related to my job.
Everything else was exactly the same, except I started to find that with all that time alone without the distraction of work I started to spiral into depression. To stop that, I began to step back from dealing with the outside world. I canceled all of the video conferences, webinars, and video meetings I had planned for the week.
I slept late, puttered around the apartment moving furniture and trying desperately to shift the energy. I baked, cooked, cleaned, sorted, and basically spent my hours in what felt like meaningless activity – just to stay busy.
Towards the end of my vacation, external situations in the world escalated alarmingly with riots and looting. My city instituted an evening curfew and just as that was all building up to frightening heights, I somehow exacerbated an old back injury. I suddenly found myself in excruciating physical pain. There were moments so intense that I became nauseous and actually limped painfully into my bathroom and lowered myself to the floor just in case I had to be sick.
The cold tile was almost comforting to me if for no other reason than the fact that it felt different than anything I had been feeling before. It was the newness of that feeling that suddenly made me stop to think, “What is going on with me? What am I feeling here?” Not the physical pain – that was obvious – but what was I feeling internally.
Splayed out on the bathroom floor, I started to think about how I had spent my vacation. I realized that not only had I canceled most of the moments where I might have to interact with other people, I had also started to stop caring about most things that normally bring me pleasure.
I had started eating more junk food. With meals, instead of plating things nicely and sitting at my table I had started to just eat out of serving bowls and pots. I stopped practicing my singing for my voice lesson, and even canceled a lesson in the process. I tried to read books, but could not sustain my attention for more than a few minutes at a time. On sunny days, I did not take walks and rarely even left the house to feel the sun on my face. I detached almost totally from social media and haven’t read a news headline in a week. I spent hours without any music playing in my apartment – a highly unusual thing for me.
In the past, when I have felt depressed, I have sometimes found myself drinking too much. For the most part, during this strange two-week period, I have found that I just don’t care enough to create nice cocktails or open bottles of wine. I suppose that’s a good thing – not turning to alcohol. I just didn’t care enough to try.
That’s the point. I just don’t care.
I thought about it today again and saw the image of an electrical panel. It’s like I have been flipping off circuit breakers in my life one by one. Food. Flip. Walking in the sunshine. Flip. Reading. Flip. Talking to friends. Flip. Meditation. Flip. Yoga. Flip. Music. Flip. Social media. Flip.
So what am I left with? As I turn off more and more parts of my life, I find myself being forced to stop and focus on some deep, core, basic truths. As I think more about it, this is not a bad thing. I have shut out the noise and distraction and what’s left is just me at a deep, raw, primal kind of level.
Turning off all the circuits leaves me in the dark – but it’s a darkness that feels somehow comforting and welcome. I can figuratively curl up into a fetal position, weep, and then feel the catharsis of release. After that release, I have the ability to choose just which switches to turn back on and which to leave off. I am terrified sometimes of where my life is going, then I find myself strangely exhilarated by the possibilities of stripping away things that no longer serve me and creating something new and exciting.
Sometimes, you have to fall apart before you can put yourself back together in a better pattern.
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.