Catching glimpses of friends’ Coronavirus-shaped lives in my social media feed reminds me of the classic Hitchcock movie Rear Window. In it, poor, laid-up James Stewart makes inferences about his neighbors’ lives based on what sees through their apartment windows. The storyline makes sense to him, but he’s not working with the full picture, is he?
(Note to self: add Rear Window to my quarantine movie queue.)
I say this, because I’m struggling against my need for solitude and silence right now. This is a new feeling, and it’s unsettling. When I go through hard times, my usual impulse is to reach out, ask, brainstorm, share. I’m a collective problem-solver, better in community and conversation than alone.
But not right now. I must sit with grief right now, even though I don’t want to.
I’m seeing peoples’ Zoom dance parties and socially-distanced walks with friends. I watch as friends enjoy online concerts and singlalongs, or share words of wisdom and humor and comfort.
I would usually be one of those people. But not right now.
Why am I telling you this? To remind you (and me, just as much) that what you need to cope and take care of yourself right now may look different than what you’re seeing on your social media feed.
You may reach out.
You may withdraw.
You may need stimulation because you’re bored.
You may need rest because you’re working harder than ever.
You may comfort yourself with science.
You may comfort yourself with art.
You may become productive.
You may become still.
You may seek out humor and laugh.
You may find humor grating and cry.
You may crave gourmet meals.
You may crave ramen and cereal.
You may need to look for light.
You may need to sit in darkness.
You may feel connected in ways you never did before.
You may feel isolated in ways you never did before.
You may become more compassionate.
You may become more wary.
You may need variety.
You may need familiarity.
You may want to be outdoors.
You may want to stay in your bed.
Feel what you feel. Do what you need to care for yourself. It’s okay if it looks different than what others are doing.
There is no right way to do this thing none of us has ever done before.
As my friend Jenny Lawson says, it won’t always be like this.