So I have a confession to make: I kind of enjoy the quarantine.
Not the actual circumstances that are necessitating it. Oh lordy, no. No, I’m a public health professional. I know why we’re quarantined, I know how it works, I know why it’s necessary, and I know what will happen if we don’t. Hell, I have a pretty decent idea of what will happen even with us doing it (though not as many of us are doing it as we should).
But removed from the impetus for us being in quarantine, the actual result has thus far…been kind of nice. I’m extremely fortunate that my work has been able to continue. My dayjob issued me a laptop so that I could continue to work from home (something they’ve had rather arbitrary rules against, but that’s another matter). Once I started working from home, it took me a minute to get the groove but within a few days, I was right at my usual productivity. Heck, some days, I’m even more productive than I was in the office. And all without the hour commute to and from work.
I’m further fortunate because much of my life has been structured around independence. I have a home gym that’s tailored to my athletic goals. My training program has LONG been structured in such a way that I minimize the need for training partners. And while martial arts training NEEDS sparring and other ‘live’ drills, you’d be amazed what kind of skills you can maintain and/or improve with little partnered work and even little equipment.
I eat out very rarely, so cooking at home hasn’t been much of a change. I’m not one for social activities like sports outings, movies, or the like. Certainly not bars or clubs. I love television as an artform so this has granted me the time to indulge in that (more on that momentarily). I’ve been able to read more, working on the massive backlog of books and comics I’ve been meaning to get around to.
Even my writing has improved. With more time to sleep and to engage in casual activities (mostly sleep), I’ve been able to write recreationally again. Meaning I’ve been able to work on stories for my own amusement and not for publication. That’s been a delight I can’t describe and something that’s been so long since I’ve done it, I’d forgotten how much fun it is!
Solitary, stay-at-home life has long appealed to me. In the past, when I did work from home, I found it extremely productive. And sometimes, I had to remind myself to even go outside. It was so easy to go from one task to the next, or pausing when needed and recreating as I wish. Books, movies, video games, toys, etc. Life indoors suited me. So I often fantasized that if I could do it long-term, I’d probably love it. Imagine all I’d do.
And then the quarantine order came.
As I write this, the order for most of the United States is through April 30th. Some municipalities have ordered longer, but the end of April seems to be the general consensus. Now, everybody reserves the right to extend it (as they should). So, it’s basically ‘April 30th, until otherwise specified’. Will it be extended? Not sure. Prevailing theories suggest it should be. But given some extremely malignant forces are trying to goad people to ignore the order, it’s hard to say. Again, as I write this, I will be surprised if the quarantine order isn’t extended.
But let’s not talk about disease. Let’s talk about television. Why? Because there’s a lot of it! Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus, Crunchyroll, and I’m sure there are other services too. So much good TV that I’ve been waiting to watch. The Mandalorian! New seasons of Castlevania! And I’ve heard great things about that Breaking Bad dealio.
Only I haven’t gotten around to watching them.
Oh sure, I’ve watched a few episodes of this and that. But what have I done? Mostly I’ve played video games I’ve played before, and watched TV shows I’ve watched before.
Now part of this is a coping mechanism. People tend to revisit art they are familiar with because the knowledge of what will come is calming. It’s genuinely not unlike seeing old friends. The familiar is reassuring.
And there’s nothing wrong with watching classics and favorites. But if you’ve lived your life saying ‘when I’ve got the time, I’m going to do this’, and then that time comes and you don’t do it, it’s time to ask some questions of yourself.
We all have an ideal life. We all have this perfect world and this perfect version of ourselves that we wish were real. But how much of that ideal life is truly something that would make us happy?
When Adam Sandler made his return to SNL last year (or two years ago?), he did a sketch where he was the spokesman for a cruise company. The majority of the sketch was him saying all the things you would get to do on the cruise, and then adding the caveat that if you don’t enjoy doing those things already, don’t blame the cruise company if you don’t enjoy them in some tropical locale. It was a surprisingly profound jab at expectations versus reality. Not the expectation of an event, but an expectation of your reaction to the event.
I thought if I had more spare time, I’d use it consuming new art and enjoying new tales of fancy and fantasy. Turns out, I use it to watch Star Trek TNG reruns and replay Final Fantasy 12 for the gazillionth time.
And I need to be clear: that’s fine. Ain’t a damn thing wrong with either of those (quite the opposite). But I need to stop lying to myself, thinking ‘one of these days, I’ll…’. Because today is one of these days and I ain’t doing it.
Our ideal life is a lot closer than we realize, and a lot more accessible than we give ourselves credit for. For some of us who work hard jobs, with little money, you have little emotional or literal space to deal with things. But for many of us, our ‘perfect life’ is a lot closer than we think.
What is your ideal of happiness? What is your perfect day? What do you wish you spent all day doing?
World travel is (or was) a lot cheaper than people realize. There’s never been a time in human history when knowledge and information and art was so accessible.
What do you want your life to look like? You may find you’re closer to it than you realize.