Sitting with the Uncertainty

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March 2020: the month of the 1000 piece puzzle

I don’t know what day of “quarantine”/”social distancing”/isolation we’re on here. Heck, like most people now, I don’t even know what day it is. I do know that it’s almost the end of March and that I’ve got a big presentation to give (online) tomorrow and that that presentation which is supposed to last half an hour is not put together yet.

I’ve been suffering from too much time. Even when life has maintained its normal daily structure too much time is a phenomenon students and professional procrastinators throughout the globe are familiar with. It occurs when you know you have plenty of time to finish something but instead of spreading the work nice and evenly over all that time, you tell yourself “I’ve got time.” As in, “I really should start researching…but I’ve got so much time still.” In this pandemic induced stopping of nearly all time related obligation (for most of us), the too much time phenom has kicked into overdrive. It’s on steroids and is raging.

But this blase attitude, this extreme lack of motivation to do the things I need to do in allllll the time I now have available to do them, it’s more than the usual procrastinating tendencies. There’s a vague sense of purposeless that presses down like a heavy fog. The emotional roller coaster that takes you from “but look, I’m able to run almost every day and I’ve been getting so much sleep” to crying in the bathroom because Detroit is burning and so many people are not working and how are we all going to pay our bills and eat??? Back to thoughts of how much I’m saving just by not driving 110 miles back and forth to Detroit every day and then again to worries over my parents and my brother-in-law with frequent lung infections who was left a single parent by my sister’s sudden death a year and a half ago… and so I wander around the house and stare vaguely out the window. I try to check in on friends and family but get distracted by the cesspool of social media. And the hours somehow tick by. Slowly. But nothing happens. My presentation isn’t done. The information for my upcoming (also online)  tests and quizzes sits untouched.

Lat night while staring at my computer and feeling very stressed about the work I wasn’t doing, my best friend tested me with a question about her son’s teeth. All the dentist offices are closed until who knows when so an almost third year dental student is an okayish substitute. After we went back and forth about the lesion in her teenager’s mouth we started the usual chit chat about daily life, the kids, etc. Because some things haven’t changed. “Today was very somber, everyone is getting very weary around here.” she texts. I know exactly what she means; the reality of the current situation is setting in. At first there was a sense of novelty about everyone being stuck at home. Things were changing day by day, it was novel and sharp; there was a sense of urgency to take collective action and stem the tide of this pandemic. Very rah-rah-cis-boom-bah! And you could kind of pretend that the kids were just on an extended spring break from school and that’s cool and normal enough to get through it. But now there are rumors that they won’t be back this school year. There is a heavy sadness for the graduating (maybe?) classes who are missing all the festivities and emotions of such a pivotal moment in their young lives. We’ve been at home for almost three weeks. Or maybe this coming week is the third week. We’ve been at home, our lives have been slammed into a bleak limbo, for a timeless amount of time that will go on for unknown many days or weeks more.

And that’s it; that’s life for so many of us. We sit and watch the news, wondering who to trust and what is real. We watch the numbers climb ominously: confirmed cases of the virus, number of Covid-19 deaths, hospitals that are at capacity. Here in Michigan we look at the county-by-county break down of the number of cases each day and hope that we’ll see the effects of the Social Distancing protocols Stay at Home order that’s been in place since mere days after the first couple cases were confirmed. We need all this sitting and waiting to mean something.

We need results!

But what we have is uncertainty and all we really can do is just sit with the uncertainty and try to be at peace.

Changes Needed…or Not

Lately I’ve been feeling edgy and restless. Bored. I hate bored!

BC bored

I’m pretty sure this particular brand of boredom is really avoidance in disguise. True there hasn’t been any New and Exciting in my life for what seems like a while now but I’m more than busy enough not to be bored. My life is challenging and engaging. Boredom has no excuse to be here!

Besides my regular level of crazy busy there are a few things that are on the cusp of changing in my life…maybe big changing. Which is why this boredom is more like that jittery feeling you get at the starting line of a race right before the gun goes off. You know you’re about to go. You’ve worked for this, trained, prepped, warmed up and now you’re just standing around waiting. All that energy ready to be released; the rock at the top of the hill just waiting for that bit of force to tip it over the edge. Potential energy. Energy wasted, well, stored in the sitting. Except the gun is not about to go off right now. I’ve got months of preparation before taking those big steps (applying for dental school for one), months of work. I need to put my nose to the grindstone so to speak and get shit done. Knowing that makes me want to balk and shy away. It makes me distracted. It makes me want a change.

In the spirit of said boredom I have recently contemplated rejoining the world of online dating. I almost did it this past weekend. I’ve scrolled through profiles anonymously like the creeper I just might be and even contemplated sending a message or two. (Seriously, there was this professor of neuroscience at a nearby medical school…he wore a bow tie and a sweater with a skull on it. Swoon!). I even updated the pictures on my profile and tweaked the write up just in case I did decide to send anyone a message (ahem, neuroscience guy). But I stopped short of taking the plunge and unhiding my profile. I still don’t have time in my life for dating, even casually, and I really don’t want to make time. I just want the distraction of talking to someone new, the fun of a few first dates, the rush of it all and maybe some company once in a while. But distraction is the last thing I need right now. Must. Focus.

Possibly also in said spirit of said boredom I am thinking about signing up for a half marathon this spring. I’ve only done fall half marathons and both times I realized just weeks before the race that I was stretching myself pretty thin to get those long runs in. I was shorting other things like school to fit in the training I needed. Maybe a spring half would be different. Plus then I’d be in killer shape going into the summer. And, being right at the beginning of the usual “race season” (though one could hardly call my meager few 5 & 10K’s a race season), maybe I’d avoid that post-big race slump. I’d like to find out and the lure of something shiny and new to work towards is tugging on the edge of my mind. It’s playing with my current state of boredom like a cat batting around a marble. I might succumb. I might do it. Or maybe I should just move furniture around, paint a room or something. But bloody hell, I don’t even have time for that!
Still though there’s that itchy, irritating restlessness. That craving for something but I just don’t know what. Maybe if I keep moving I can outrun it. I’m not very fast but I’m persistent. I’ve got endurance on my side. Maybe I can outlast it. The pressure is on, I want to run away. It’s what I do, my favorite brand of self-sabotage. Get close to something big then pull back, find fifty other things to do, excuses as to why I can’t succeed. Wash, rinse, repeat.

In 2014 right around this time my divorce was finalized. Finally. The couple years before and since that have been spent transitioning and adapting. Constantly fluxing into something new and different. Changing. Even though changes can be scary so can not changing. Maybe I feel like I need a change because I’m so used to things changing regularly. There’s no status quot. Maybe that’s what this is: adapting to not changing.