You may recall the Sinefeld episode where George pitches his idea for a TB show about nothing. There’s been a lot of talk about nothing during this pandemic so I decided why not write about nothing. People say nothing is impossible. Yet, many of us do nothing a lot of the time. Many are also doing something. You know, Zooming, Face Timing, Instagramming, Tick Tocking, webinaring, phoning, etc. Even with all of those -ings, there’s still a lot of nothing to do. Phone conversations are losing some of their lustre. They go something like this, “Hi. How’s it going. Yeah. Ok here, too. Talked to anyone? Me, neither. Missing that neighborhood gossip. Any new projects? Me neither. Okay. By for now. Stay safe.” I suppose that could be depressing if it wasn’t kind of funny. Which it is if you look through the right lens.
I must admit that sprinkled in between the nothing to do times, I have done a number of somethings. I’ve taught a course, taken a couple of courses, listened to a number of webinars, participated in great Water Cooler type chats via Zoom, had phone calls with friends on both sides of the border, made lots of chocolate chip cookies, perfected the brewing of a new organic coffee. The cookies and coffee are great companions when there’s nothing to do, which, of course, is different from doing nothing. And would you believe I have not gained any weight? Honest to goodness truth. That’s a goofy expression of redundancy. Wonder where it came from. . That could be a nice little research project when I am doing nothing.
I could prattle on ad nauseum about nothing, but what’s the point. You get the picture Besides you probably have lots of your own nothing. So, I will leave you with the pandemicesque words of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin.
"How do you do Nothing?" asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time. "Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh nothing, and then you go about to do it.""Oh, I see," said Pooh."This is a nothing sort of thing that we're doing now.""Oh, I see," said Pooh again."It means we're just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."
Comments are welcomed.
My intent, at the outset, was to write a thoughtful blog about lessons learned in quarantine. Then I came upon this article in the New Yorker by Grace Henes. It caused me to put my own reflections on hold. Thanks, A.J. (and Grace) I think we would opt any day for your version of suspense over the current pandemic anxiety.
Plot synopsis: Man trapped in his apartment stares at neighbors through the window all day. No one bakes bread.
Quarantine takeaway: New hobbies can be a bad thing.
Plot synopsis: Woman leaves town even though she probably should have stayed home. World’s loneliest boy owns a B. & B. that’s not doing so hot right now. Imaginary friend has to do a lot of emotional heavy lifting.
Quarantine takeaway: Avoid non-essential businesses.
Plot synopsis: Man is in shock after sudden, unexpected events. Has bouts of extreme dizziness, such as those one might experience after watching six hours of true-crime reënactments. Is tasked with following a woman at a safe distance.
Quarantine takeaway: Don’t ignore your symptoms.
“Strangers on a Train”
Plot synopsis: Two men purposefully engage in a close conversation on public transportation, without a face mask in sight. It doesn’t work out well for either of them.
Quarantine takeaway: It’s not a great time to travel.
“Dial M for Murder”
Plot synopsis: Man worries about maintaining his comfortable life style and regular income. He reaches out to a friend he hasn’t spoken to in many years, then orders delivery.
Quarantine takeaway: Business is best conducted over the phone.
“North by Northwest”
Plot synopsis: Man eats at a restaurant, inadvertently risking his life in the process. He seeks assistance with his problems from a government official, with disappointing results. Everyone is having an identity crisis.
Quarantine takeaway: Planes = danger.
“The Man Who Knew Too Much”
Plot synopsis: Chaos at an international level; church services and concerts are disrupted as a result. Iconic song that’s meant to be comforting doesn’t really answer anyone’s questions.
Quarantine takeaway: There’s such a thing as being too informed.
Plot synopsis: Bad things are happening outside your house. Those bad things are birds. Even though you may not have personally seen the birds, or known someone who was attacked by the birds, be assured those birds are out there.
Quarantine takeaway: Fear the outdoors.
It’s been said by those who study these things that gratitude and depression cannot live in the same space. If one has true gratitude it is not possible to be depressed. Given recent computer issues, I am wondering if that also applies to gratitude and frustration. Let me explain.
About 2 months ago my computer developed an irritating quirk. It was an issue with One Drive, the back up for everything. Suddenly, I would get messages in my documents that sign in was required. At the same time a message from Microsoft would appear saying there was a problem with my account. I discovered that logging into my account and putting in the password, resolved the matter. Easy peasy, right? Wrong. The problem would reappear every 3rd day and would require going through the same process of logging into my account. It was getting most irritating so I phoned Microsoft Disabilities for assistance hoping they could fix the issue once and for all. The tech did some techy stuff and all seemed to be well. Three days later it was no longer well. Same snag. I ended up phoning MD 4 times over a few weeks. Each tech believed he or she had the remedy. Nope. The 5th call was to have the situation escalated to the upper level techs. I was given an appointment with the level2 crew.
Level 2 tech phoned. He had been using One Drive himself with no issues. I had a little more confidence with this guy. He seemed to have a clue about unquirking what was going on. He did all kinds of tech things which appeared to solve the mystery. We’ll see. The caveat is what happens on the third day after the fix. Level 2 guy is calling back in 4 days to see if the glitch no longer exists. I won’t be able to provide the results because this blog will be posted before the final test.
Regardless, this brings me to the gratitude vs. frustration conundrum. Having the One Drive glitch surface every third day was driving me nuts. When I get that Microsoft message every third day it is like Ground Hog Day and we’re not getting it right. Then I call Microsoft Disabilities and it is always an hour call no matter what they do. I’m not always sure they are actually hearing me about the issue. Every time I get off the phone with them my head feels like it wants to explode. That’s the frustration piece.
Then I flip over the coin to the gratitude side. I do not have access to any tech support person. Because I use a screen reader on my computer I am eligible to get cost free technical assistance and support from Microsoft Disabilities. I try to remind myself of this every time something goes haywire on the computer and I feel like tearing my hair out. Ugh. I get so conflicted. What to do?
I believe I am finally coming around to the solution. The truth is that gratitude needs to be the go to choice. There are countless things to be grateful for and appreciate . When frustrations, irritations, annoyances et al occur, I will allow myself to feel them guilt free. The negative emotions are part of our humanity. The point is not to dwell on them. Notice, acknowledge, experience for a short time, then make a better choice. In the grand scheme of things, it’s about what really matters. It’s about what is most important.
Comments are welcomed.
In case you might be suffering from Zoom fatigue; if you are experiencing social media overload; if you don’t want to hear another strategy, technique, exercise, etc. to make yourself feel better during this crazy time, the following might be for you.
There is a great deal of scientific study and empirical evidence linking all aspects of nature to improved mental, physical health and well being. For example, the negative ions given off by water falls or a body of water tends to improve our mood and lift our spirits. Of course it is not always possible to be near lakes, streams, rivers, etc. Green spaces can do just as much, if not more for us. A walk in the park or woods or whatever part of nature you can find will also be calming and stress reducing
A practice that has grown in recent years is Forest Bathing or Forest Therapy. It comes from the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku, or taking a slow walk in the woods and absorbing the surroundings with all your senses.
The practice of forest bathing or just being in the presence of trees is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of well being.
If “bathing” in the forest is not viable, there are still other aspects of nature we can access that will produce similar benefits. Flowers are one.
According to lead researcher Nancy Etcoff, assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, study participants who had fresh cut flowers in their home for less than a week had increased feelings of compassion and kindness for others.
Those who placed flowers in parts of their home where they spend most of their time reported feeling less negative and looked forward to seeing the blooms first thing in the morning.
Additionally, further studies showed people tended to have lower blood pressure and less anxiety.
Remember those tapes and CD’s of nature sounds? Well, “In clinical studies, we have seen that 2 hours of nature sounds a day significantly reduce stress hormones up to 800% and activates 500 to 600 DNA segments known to be responsible for healing and repairing the body.” Dr. Joe Dispenza
If leaving your residence is not an option you don’t have to. According to Rachel Kaplan, Dept. of Psychology at the University of Michigan, you can enjoy nature’s restorative effects sitting by a window, looking out at green space and taking in the warmth of the sun.
Finally, it is a known fact that recalling positive experiences, recapturing the feelings that were part of the experience and savouring those good feelings can boost happiness. Perhaps looking at photographs of nature and times spent in nature can give you some moments of joy and calm as well.
Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come. - Chinese proverb
Comments are welcomed.