For anyone who has even been passively paying attention to the news, Instagram, or, like me, is the recipient of hundreds of emails from retailers I’ve unknowingly subscribed to, you’ve undoubtedly heard or seen the “times” we are living in being described as “turbulent,” “uncertain,” or “stressful.” And they’re not wrong. We’re in the midst of a deadly, unprecedented global health crisis, and it’s certainly uncharted territory, especially for Americans. Many of us, even those lucky enough to enjoy the privilege of health and safety during this time, have seen our lives change radically over the past three weeks. The restaurants, bars, and gyms we’re used to frequenting have shuttered. If we’re lucky enough to retain our jobs, we’re relegated to makeshift at-home offices (often, our beds). We can’t see our friends and, often, our families, and are forced to make do with the limited social comforts of Facetimes and Zoom happy hours. And I think most of us are beginning to see the minor and major ways in which our social lives have served as the backbone of our well-being and the very pillars to our own identity.
So what happens when millions of people are forced inside their homes?
Lots and lots of “me” time.
While the prospect seems daunting, especially for those accustomed to packed social agendas and busy workplace and school demands, there is opportunity here. This is the first time in our lives (likely not the last) in which we are being asked to shelve the distractions of the outside world. We have been given an indefinite amount of time to do all those things we never had time for before. We can revisit those hobbies we always said we’d do but never did. We’ve discovered ourselves to be cooks! Bloggers! Weavers! Fine wine connoisseurs! Andrew Cuomo devotees! And while some performative hobbyists may be flaunting these pastimes on social media, others will just be sharing them with their friends and inspiring each other to explore those parts of ourselves that are so often lost to the productive machinery of modern life.
A couple months ago, I told a friend, a musician, that I wanted to learn the guitar, something I had been saying for months. “That’s what everyone says. No one actually does it,” he said. Touché. Well, two weeks into quarantine, after exhausting the annals of my Instagram feed and likely all of the online sales, I found myself with a kids-sized classical guitar on my lap, perusing through Youtube videos of beginner guitar tutorials. While I’m certainly lightyears away from being the next Janis Joplin, I might emerge from this knowing a couple chords. Or at least Wonderwall. Hopefully, when the “dust settles” (another popular refrain in the media-verse) on this peculiar and uncertain time, each of us will re-enter society with these newfound talents a little more interesting and introspective. Because in the era of social distancing, we are left with just ourselves. And maybe that’s not so bad.
Oly I want a guitar performance! I love the message of your post!