Like many around the world, I am in a bubble of social isolation. I have a link to food through online grocery orders and connections to my communities via Zoom. I am blessed to share my virus-free space with my spouse, one of my adult children and two dogs. I am thankful to be outside of the city so that I can walk without risk of fines for failing to maintain the mandated hockey-stick length between people ( a Canadian measurement tool).
I am challenged to stay present and not indulge in “when-then” thinking and being. When the weather warms up and I need my spring clothes, then I’ll clean out my closet. When they lift the social distancing rule, then I’ll call these people. When the stores are open, then I’ll stop my obsessive filling of online shopping carts. When I can get out and be with people, then I’ll care how I look. When this is over, then I will…
I had a university professor who accused the student body of delayed living. He observed that we lived in a campus bubble underwritten with permission to opt out of everything but eat, sleep, socialize, go to classes and do assignments. We could live in the when . . . then. When the term is over, then I’ll. When I finish my exams, then I’ll. When I graduate, then I’ll. We could delay engaging in adulthood. We could delay being responsible. We could delay living with intention and instead function on student autopilot. For many, the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown is a similar enabler.
The when-then for me is an unhealthy place. It robs me of my energy and ability to engage. In the when-then mindset, I am handing my power over to the pandemic, to social media and to my discomfort with the uncertainty of the future.
In my experience, the antidote to my when-then inertia is found in the discipline of staying true to my life purposes. Thanks to a workshop leader who encouraged us to balance our creative energy with the necessities and priorities of healthy daily living, I have a list of life purposes. Yes, daily writing is a life purpose so is maintaining my home, nurturing and nourishing my family, practising self-care, exercising my body, looking after my pets, connecting with my
recovery community, investing time and energy in my friendships, and being present and of service to my executive coaching clients. Many of these life purposes require daily attention, a few less frequently. All of them require me to be intentional in my daily routine.
The process of listing my life purposes brings clarity to my values and what I need in order to feel I’m living a full and intentional life. It grounds me in the present moments of the day. It tethers me to a routine: flexible, though focused. It provides me with the gifts of energy, engagement and empowerment.
I can manage the isolation, loss of freedom and fear of the pandemic and our future when I stay true and active in my life purposes. At least, that is my experience today.