April 21, 2020
This post was written before Canada's most deadly mass shooting on Sunday night here in Nova Scotia. Added to my current growing unease, which you'll read about in this post, is a thick layer of disbelief, shock, sadness, and horror.
I'm starting to feel off. An increasing sense of discomfort. I'm not anxious, or particularly worried, just "off". Tired, a little cranky, and unmotivated. I'm wishing this would be over but I'm not sure what "over" will look like, probably not the picture I have in mind.
For the first month of our confinement I enjoyed living day-to-day, and not thinking too much about the future. Though I have to qualify, my warm fuzzies were definitely influenced by certain reassurances of forward momentum for our family life, things to look forward to in the present and the future: Brienne's acceptance to college for fall 2020, Laurent's successful start, this month, of his own post-secondary schooling in an online program.
At the beginning of this crisis I loved the clearing of the calendar, the blank slate, the sense of expansiveness, a huge relief in a busy life. Now what I'm feeling is a growing sense of emptiness, of indefinite waiting.
I've talked before about my personality type, as I understand it through the lens of the Enneagram. I strongly identify as a type 6. According to all the social media memes, as a type 6 I either should be uber-prepared for this kind of situation, having anticipated this worst case scenario already. Or, as an anxiety-prone person, I should be experiencing high levels of anxiety.
Neither is true. Although I have an overactive imagination for potential pitfalls and ways life can go off the rails, I don't live my life especially prepared for those scenarios, in terms of stocked resources. Some of that is by choice, some by circumstance.
I wonder if my lack of anxiety right now is just because of my privilege.
We're still employed during this crisis, most notably my husband's job has not been affected, and we live off his income and benefits. We're in a beautiful place. We're with family. None of us are sick, yet. None of us are on the frontlines of this crisis, in any way, working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, or grocery stores.
Or maybe it's because I'm in Canada and our government has really stepped up to take care of people and we already have a decent safety net in place.
I listen to CBC radio and read the New York Times fairly regularly, especially now, and the lack of coordinated and readily-available assistance for vulnerable people in the United States astounds and saddens me. But it doesn't give me anxiety. I'm too far removed.
On that note, having lived in the U.S. for 11 years I find myself increasingly grateful to be back in Canada.
Yes, I feel drawn to live in the mountains of New England or the American west, and I love that I had 2 babies born in that country, but I don't want to live in the United States. I recently finished Margaret Atwood's The Testaments, maybe that's why I'm particularly happy to be north of the 49 parallel. (Highly recommend the book.)
Like many people, my political beliefs are complex and can't be summarized with binary headings. Left/right, progressive/conservative, collective good/individual liberty. But what I do know is that I feel an ever increasing number of Americans are being thrown under the bus of capitalism and individualism.
There are deep economic disparities and injustices in both countries, but it's my perception (I could be wrong) that America is a less safe place to be if you're truly vulnerable and in need.
I have more trust in the Canadian system to take care of people and maybe I'm just leaning into that Type 6 dependence on trusted authorities. Perhaps that's why I'm not anxious.
I don't have anxiety, as I've experienced in the past, but there is a growing sense of unease.
Increasingly, I am greeted each morning with the uncomfortable question of what will I do today? And more to the point: how will I find the motivation to do it? It's not that I don't have things to do. I have my normal life tasks, including work, and my "would be nice to get around to doing during Covid-19 confinement" list.
I'm just feeling unmotivated for all of it: the stuff I like to do, and the stuff I don't.
I'm not complaining. Nor am I beating myself up or feeling shame. I'm just observing.
Thankfully, as I go through my day, checking off the things that need to be done, whether laundry, groceries, my online work, helping Brienne with algebra, cleaning the kitchen, etc. my spirits tend to pick up and even if I'm not super-motivated, doing the tasks brings a sense of accomplishment.
And conversations and laughter with my family refreshes my spirits.
A walk in the woods, which doesn't happen every day but most days, always makes me feel like I've done something good for my soul, even when I have to drag myself out the door.
I look forward to the evenings when I can watch a couple hours of CBC programming without guilt that I'm wasting daylight hours. After tearfully finishing Schitt's Creek a couple weeks ago I've moved on to other CBC Gem movies and documentaries about nature, geography, and culture. Nothing related to the current crisis.
I highly recommend The Wild Canadian Year with David Suzuki. All of the nature and beauty of Canada's wild places without the doom and gloom of climate change or corona virus.
In week five of our confinement the novelty is wearing off. The newness at the beginning felt like a working vacation. Now it's starting to feel like life in lockdown.
I've read the articles, opinions, and commentaries. I'm not alone in my lack of motivation and increasing fatigue. This is normal for the circumstance.
I'm learning I probably depend upon external structures more than I think I do. That's an interesting self-observation. Sometimes I ponder this and other lessons of confinement, sitting with it, so to speak.
But mostly I attend to tasks, take naps when possible, kick myself out the door for walks, distract myself with books and nightly television, either powering-through or giving-in to low motivation depending on the circumstance, increasingly aware of the discomfort of the unknown future.
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