Published on

May 1, 2020

Am I doing lockdown right?

A question which I suspect many of us are grappling with right now

This morning I woke at 6:30am. I wrote in my journal, planned my day, and did 30 minutes of yoga before making my morning coffee.

During the morning I worked consistently, taking short breaks to rejuvenate my focus and avoiding social media.

Moving through my routine gives me security. I've always felt most free when I imposed structure on my time, and it especially settling in periods like this.

Yet now I sit, gazing out at a still Australian autumn day, with no task ahead of me and a gnawing sense of anxiety. I'm asking myself a question that I suspect many of us are grappling with right now.

Am I doing lockdown right?

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One of the strangest side-effects of the coronavirus has been the immediate, stark changes it has wrought in our collective time management. With schools, workplaces, cafes and bars closed, we're all learning how to occupy ourselves at home.

Some of us are picking up new hobbies, or reviving old ones. Past-times like gardening, DIY and baking have seen their popularity explode. They're challenging, but not overly so. Occupying, and with a pleasant sense of a achievement.

Others are finding peace in work and 'side hustles'. I can barely count the number of new podcasts I've seen launch over the past month! Many of my friends, myself included, are taking the opportunity to learn new professional skills and take courses.

Predictably, there's a weighty serving of judgement associated with any of these choices. This is how you should be connecting with others during the lockdown. If you don't come out the other side with a new skill you lacked discipline. It's as if we're trying to convince ourselves of the validity of our choices by forcing them upon others!

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Yet the more I've thought about it, the more I recognise that many of these past-times are simply diversions, reasons not to grapple with the lurking instability that coronavirus has created. It's certainly true in my case - I am strenuously avoiding any 'dead time' where my mind might turn to the enormous, structural changes in society grinding beneath us.

I recently read Ryan Holiday's Stillness in the Key, and the lessons of Stoicism that he writes about really moved me. The book focuses on the power of inactivity, and how our ability to cultivate quiet in periods of change is the key to survival and adaption. Frankly, it's the exact opposite of what I've been doing!

So today - and I hope ongoing - I'll be taking time each day to sit. I won't be reading, tidying, or engaging in the performance of self-improvement. I'll just be sitting, letting my thoughts wander and being still. I don't expect to come to any profound realisations, I just think it's something many of us may be missing right now.

I invite you to join me.

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Thank you!
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© Copyright Oliver Mitchell 2019