The first 24 hours of sheltering is place is nearly through, and to be honest, it hasn’t been too wildly divergent from what a normal day at home might be for me. When I’m traveling every week for work I’m usually home on Monday and Tuesday before heading out again, and I generally use the time to learn new music, take care of the administrative stuff (emails, contract approval), do laundry, go for a run. Which is basically what I did today.
For others, though, I imagine that transitioning from a physical workplace, with its built-in social interaction, to a solitary day of emails and conference calls from the kitchen table is disconcerting. Telecommuting may be common in other industries, but in the music industry, even the administrative part, it’s a bit of a new world. Friends in arts organizations across the country are recounting their discomfiture at the new normal as they try to negotiate this new model in a business that relies on interpersonal and in-person connection.
But here in San Francisco, the challenges of telecommuting have been further exacerbated by the fact that we can’t meet up with people at all, never mind at work. There are no happy hours, or lunches, or yoga dates, or running clubs, or religious services, no opportunity to interact with others face to face. For those of us who live with spouses/kids/families, we have at least some built in human time (although I imagine we’ll eventually start looking forward to spending some time apart!) For those living alone, however, the next 3 weeks looks pretty bleak.
It feels to me that, in this case, “one” and “two” don’t operate by the normal rules of mathematics; instead it feels a bit more binary – either you’re alone (1) or not alone (2+) (does that make sense at all? Sometimes my brain works in strange ways…) And I worry about my friends who live alone, who depend on their interactions with friends to fill that need for human contact.
The shelter in place order indicates that while people cannot gather for any reason, they can be outdoors for exercise, as long as they stay 6 feet apart. And so I invited a friend on her own to take a long walk with me through a park with me this afternoon, 6 feet apart. It felt a little strange, for sure, but the distance protects us and those around us, so we ambled, 2 yards apart, chatting, a respite from loneliness.
One can’t overstate the importance of social distancing in the current environment. But that makes finding ways to take care of each other within those constraints even more important. Humans are social creatures and not meant to live isolation; we thrive in each other’s company and we need to feel connected. So my question for today is:
What makes you feel connected to others? Does is require proximity, or touch, or just the knowledge that someone cares about you?
My task for the day: help someone feeling overwhelmed by our new normal feel less alone (done!).
Hoping that all of you are feeling connected. And know that as long as we are living through these challenging times together, you are not alone.
(PS I didn’t end up having that midnight champagne. I lay in bed eating peanut M&Ms instead. Hey, whatever makes you happy, right?)