Rise to the occasion (or don’t)
It’s up to you — we can only do what we can do
I’m writing this in my third week of quarantine at home with my 14-year-old daughter. My daughter leaves her room only for food and bathroom breaks for an hour each day. She’s been quarantining herself for over a year now. She’s an old hand at this.
Things are different, but things are the same. She’s so used to using a Chromebook and a cell phone and doing school work in Google Docs and having FaceTime phone calls that this new normal has been an easy adjustment — at least on the surface. I do know she has loved not having to get up at 5:30 in the morning anymore. Frankly, so have I.
Being a writer means you’re lucky enough to be able to do your work anywhere, so working from home has been a relatively easy adjustment for me as well.
The only nagging thought I have — besides, of course, the rampant, bloodcurdling fear for our survival, no big deal — is that I have some deep-rooted guilty obligation to use this time to produce a better version of myself for the world, once we are allowed to re-join it.
I’m sure you have some level of this feeling if you spend any time on social media. You might see people with organized whiteboards of homeschooling lessons, and happy, smiling children spending quality time with their parents. You might see people cleaning and exercising, and going for walks around your neighborhood with a lot of ecstatic dogs. I have a lot of friends in the theater community so my newsfeed is filled with people offering videos of themselves singing or performing in some way to make the days less grim.
I migrate from the bed to the laptop to the recliner and back to the bed. If I manage to cross one thing off a list each day, I count it as a win.
My friends kindly remind me our only real obligation during this time is to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy. But I have been plagued by my first-world existential angst to be a better person for years now. I was always “too busy.”
So here we are locked down with the luxury of time. What are you gonna do with it, Kath?
Maybe I will create some better daily habits, make room for things besides staring at my phone or watching sitcoms. But maybe I will simply survive.
And I will be grateful for that opportunity.
Kathleen Palmer is an award-winning editor and journalist, marketing/communications content writer and occasional comedic actress. Her column “Never a Dull Moment” was awarded a gold award in the humor column category by the Parenting Media Association in 2020.