Now that we are in quarantine we can find ourselves torn between 2 parts.
The “Do”- part:
“Now that you have time at home you can at long last do all those things you have been meaning to do".
Clean the house, sort your cupboard, go on a diet, cook with those foods in the back of the pantry, try some new dishes, learn new recipes, learn a new language, go through old uni notes and freshen up your knowledge, do your tax return, start a long distance degree, read those brainy books you have been meaning to read, write letters, volunteer, pay the invoices, catch up on documentaries, meditate, do yoga, crochet something for the lamp post on the street, do a craft project, exercise, come up with a great online business project, clean the toilet, write your novel,
etc, etc, etc...
This part can drive us crazy and make us feel eternally useless and depressed, because we won’t ever feel we have accomplished enough.
Then there is the “Be” part:
"It’s a quarantine! Finally! Let’s hang out, eat some ice cream, let’s not bother leaving the bed or getting dressed, we have permission to stay in and do NOTHING!!!
Watch all the box sets. Eat everything in the pantry. Sleep in. Read novels, doze, nap, dream, rest. Slow down. Enjoy".
It can become an unbearable dance between the two.
This tension exists in everyday life already, but with normal life suspended there is so much more space for these two parts to have a go at each other.
If you find yourself stuck in this back and forth, I want to invite you to take a step back and notice those two parts in you. Look at them like you would look at two old friends you have known a long time, neither of whom you could live without, who have always struggled to get along with each other. Join them as the sensible, compassionate third, sit down with the two of them and help them talk it out. They need you. They need to be heard. They need to express their fears and wants. Hold them close. Make a space and listen to each of them. And then take some breaths. And find your way to be with them from there- as the third. These parts need breath and compassion. You might need to tell the ‘do’ part that you get the fear but you don’t appreciate the tone. You might need to invite the ‘be’ part to appreciate that sometimes things need to get done.
You could thank the ‘do’ part for keeping you on the alert and helping you get things done and strive to get better. You could thank the ‘be’ part for reminding you to rest and relax.
There is no right answer, no set way to go about it. But what I find is fundamentally helpful is when we don’t get taken by one part then the other. When we can breathe and witness each, and facilitate them, from a third place that can be compassionate but that also doesn’t just go along.
Find your own way, loving yourself through this. Maybe it’s right for you to send the ‘do’ part on holiday, and hang out with ‘be’. Except on occasion when you brush your teeth and pay a bill. Or maybe necessity dictates that you ride the ‘do’ energy to get you through a time of high need and crisis, knowing that at some point you need to find space to be. Maybe you are able to negotiate a split care arrangement, finding pockets for one, then the other each day.
And also it’s so important to remember the context- especially for the do part: it might feel like because it’s possible, you SHOULD be doing the work right now. But actually: we are in a crisis. There is fear in the air. These are difficult times. You may face serious existential worries due to income loss, or where you are living. You may have to worry about yourself, family and/or friends at risk. Even if you are lucky and neither applies to you, the reality of the global pandemic means that your nervous system, whether you are aware of it or not (and chances are you are not) is on high alert. And the kind of threat our system looks for is the tangible kind: a predator to run away from or attack. An invisible virus is not that. And the recommendation to hunker down doesn’t fulfil either the fight or the flight reactions. So our nervous system is experiencing a lot of stress right now, which means we will be more tired and sensitive. So please go easy on yourself and those around you. We are all a little bit crazy right now, understandably so.