If you don’t come out of this quarantine with either:
1.) a new skill
2.) starting what you’ve been putting off like a new business
3.) more knowledge
You didn’t ever lack the time, you lacked the discipline.
If you were looking to wave a red rag to a bull in these strange times, you’d be hard pressed to find words as affecting as these.
They came to my attention on Sunday night and my first response was ‘I’m guessing the author of these words is not attempting to homeschool three children while also working.’
The bull most likely provoked, even incensed, by these words is a person for whom isolation is not a blank canvas to joyfully, intentionally and leisurely paint.
It is a person for whom isolation does not equate to a wide expanse of additional time in which to indulge unfinished-creative endeavours, complete manuscripts, tap out a new business proposal, ‘pivot’, commence a yoga intensive or fulfil any number of long-held dreams.
For a great many people isolation, almost paradoxically, means barely a moment alone. It means no distinction between work and home. No distinction between ‘school’ and ‘home’ and ‘work’ and ‘family’ and ‘caring’. It all bleeds together.
For a great many people it means barely ten minutes uninterrupted. It means desperately trying to feed, nurture, care, teach, resolve disputes, tag-teaming with any other carers should that luxurious option be available, fulfilling whatever paid work obligations remain, all while attempting to create a modicum of congeniality and peace for the benefit of those around us. Against a backdrop of unprecedented uncertainty, financial stress, disappointment, fear and angst. In spaces, now filled to the brim, with none of the gaps provided in more ordinary times like friends, school, sport, social gatherings, the office.
There is no singular universal experience. There never is. And these socially-distanced times are no exception.
The substance and design of your job, family, living arrangements, financial situations, temperaments, relationships all vary wildly. So too the ages and stages of children, dependents, relatives, parents, neighbours.
There are so many factors that inform and influence our lives and while in this instance a universal external force – coronavirus – is forcing us all into a new way of life, it’s effect is not uniform.
Assuming that it is, and that for every person this period of isolation will provide a fertile setting in which to incubate a burning desire, and that a lack of discipline will be the only impediment, is maddeningly reductive.
For some, this period will provide a break in play that enables the pursuit of something previous unattainable. It will, I’m certain, be a circuit breaker for many. New ventures will prosper and new possibilities will be created.
But for many others that is merely a pipe dream; a total impossibility not because of a lack of discipline but because of what’s required of them daily.
If this quarantine period does provide the opportunity to do something a person has always dreamed of, that’s fantastic. Genuinely! But it’s not the only mark of worthiness.
For many, merely staying afloat will be an extraordinary feat. Emerging with an existing business in tact. Keeping family relations warm. Maintaining a shred of sanity and wellbeing. Keeping everyone safe and fed.
These things all take extraordinary discipline. It’s not the ‘discipline’ others necessarily see and reward but it’s discipline all the same.