In a few hours, after I finish dinner, a couple of girlfriends and I are hopping onto Zoom and having a little Tiger Time.
Around the same time that lockdowns were happening all over the country, Netflix released their (now smash hit) series, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. (If you like sensationalist documentaries, it’s a fantastic guilty pleasure.) In those first few weeks of sheltering in place, we were all dealing with a sense of shock as we saw both the world at large and our own lives change in way that were previously unimaginable.
Most disconcerting for many of us, apart from the fear of the pandemic itself, was the disruption of the rhythms of our lives, the lack of normalcy. In the interest of creating at least a moment of that normalcy, a few friends and I decided to hang out virtually and watch an episode of Tiger King together, as we might have done weeks before, although in person. So we gathered in our respective bedrooms, forbade spouses/children/pets from entering for an hour and poured our glasses of wine.
As much as we may enjoy novelty, humans are deeply connected to rhythms and routines. The conscious and unconscious repetitions of our lives create the neural grooves that we slide into with ease. Stop those rhythms and repetitions and we are supremely uncomfortable.
I’m not suggesting that one should do things because one has always done those things – there are reasons to break with routine – but in times of upheaval, any small gesture we can make towards our need for a familiar groove is grounding, soothing.
So my girls and I have gathered, every week, laptop and wineglass in hand. And while watching the Tiger King himself may be an amusing distraction, what we take away from the shared hours is not just entertainment, but the comforting routine of seeing each others’ faces every Thursday. We have created a New Normal that is a different iteration of the Old Normal, and it is unimaginably important for our collective mental health.
What routines have you established to give yourself a sense of normalcy?
My task today: film a few more “Musical Mystery” videos. I’ve been doing a little quiz over on Twitter where I play a brief excerpt from a piece of music and ask followers if they recognize it. A fun diversion, one that occupies my mind, and a way to connect with people over a shared love of music (done!)
(I’m @chefdorch on Twitter, if you want to play along)