I can only speak from my current experience. I know people are experiencing Covid-19 differently.
At first, the disconnection from my normal routine caused a lot of separation anxiety. My usual attachments that were taken away, creating an internal disruption – much like taking a pacifier away from a toddler. My body and mind reacted accordingly with all its fuss, fight, and frantic.
And just like, maybe, a parent knows when a child must grow up a little (i.e. remove the pacifier), the removal of my attachments – the forced disconnection – somehow told me there were areas in my life in which I needed to grow up.
There were people, places, and things – there were mindsets, beliefs, and behaviors, that I needed to disconnect from – that I needed to grow up and out of.
Yes, forced. Yes, rather uncomfortable. But all the same, an unbeknownst gift from Covid-19.
Because I sat there, after my six-week-Covid-temper-tantrum; after my internal growing pains, and realized, that something in me was thankful for the disconnection. And I didn’t want to go back. I didn’t want to go back to what was so-called-normal, but the question was, how do I move forward, and what do I connect to?
I needed new connections.
Did I feel like I had lost something? Lost connections to my usual doing? Yes, but what was there to be gained by the loss?
Yes, there was social distancing, but had I already been distancing myself from something bigger in my pre-Covid usual doing?
Yes, yes, and yes. Before Covid-19, I had already distanced myself and lost the connection to what was important, meaningful, and valuable in my life. It’s as if I didn’t get the upgrade, and I was living, breathing, and doing out of an old program – a program of rather useless and mindless actively. Living out of an old internal program that I desperately needed to wake up to, and needed to grow up and out of.
Covid-19 was the wake-up call. Covid-19 offered me the chance to come into alignment with the upgrade. Covid-19 offered me the chance to distance and disconnect from that which no longer matters to me.
I am not surprised that the word matters is taking a large stance during Covid-19. People are questioning, What matters? Not just who matters, but also, what matters at this point in history? At this point in American history? And not just America, but also, what matters in each of our own lives? What really matters? What’s important, meaningful, and valuable, not just amidst current culture, but what matters in our living, breathing, and doing on a daily basis?
Covid-19 is an opportunity to disconnect – to distance yourself what does not matter.
Covid-19 is an opportunity to connect to what does matter.
The distancing and disconnection (for me) happened way before Covid. Covid-19 regulations and mandates simply helped me see and realize what I was already disconnected from, and/or needed to disconnect from.
Johann Hari wrote a book in 2018 called Lost Connections. It was the first time (in a long time) that I started to question my daily life – and to question where and what I may have lost, and what I might need to start connecting to. Covid-19 however, would give (force me) the time and space to fully digest the reality of Johann’s book, and my current living.
There are several more lost connections that Johann writes about, but for me, there were five key lost connections that rang true. They are the connections I’ve chosen to focus on during Covid-distancing-stay-home.
1. Lost Connection to Meaningful Work
It’s been interesting to watch who decides what work is essential and what isn’t. It was interesting to see that the ABC store was deemed essential. Not judging (I was there), just interesting.
All I’m saying is, is that there was/is something about Covid-19 that, if one chooses to look, has to do with “work” – has to do with what we give our time (our life) to and the value exchange.
Covid-19 simply imposed (upon me) the time and space to question my work, and to question the meaning, value, and importance of what I give myself to, and the exchange I get, from the life I give to my work.
Covid-19 gave me the space to disconnect from areas of work that no longer had meaning to me, and to start connecting to areas that did. It gave me the chance to move toward (what I believe) matters, and will matter in the future.
2. Lost Connection to Other People
This (for me), was more about disconnecting from people I authentically didn’t connect with anyway. People when I was able to social-distance myself, I realized that I didn’t even like. Habit if you will.
The “other people” I am trying to connect with during this time are my little-inner-peoples. To connect to the parts of me that want more meaning and significance. To learn to be a skillful and wise human during these times of painful change.
Can I connect to the parts of myself that want to gain a larger perspective, that want to be more understanding, more useful, and more helpful amidst America’s growing pains? Amidst my own growing pains? And as I/we all learn to grow up and out of old habits, patterns, and beliefs? This is the connection I want.
3. Lost Connection to the Natural World
Pre-Covid, I was moving from indoor to indoor: everything indoors.
Now, I walk barefoot to check the mail. Barefoot as much as possible.
Sometimes I walk just for the sake of walking.
I ride bicycles around the neighborhood (without my phone). I hear things. I see things. Animals, flowers, bushes, trees, water, houses, people who like to wave hello. I saw a snake the other day (scared the crap out of me). An owl swooped in front of me last week. The house a mile up has a Billy goat. There are hawks here.
It’s calm and quiet (these bike rides), and it’s the first time in a long time I’ve felt naturally, authentically at peace.
4. Lost Connection to Meaningful Values
Well…this is a challenging one, and it matters. I’m still working on it. I know more about what is no longer a meaningful value than I do what is.
It’s a connection worth my time, and with Covid-19, I have the time. I will not let the opportunity to look closer at this connection slip by me.
5. Lost Connection from a Hopeful or Secure Future
A large part of Covid-19 has disconnected us from a hopeful and secure future, but…was it really hopeful and secure, or were we just blinded by all the distractions?
I can only answer for myself, and I was clearly blinded.
Connecting to a hopeful and secure future is what I suspect most of us are after. This can get confusing if we are chasing other people’s ideas of a safe and secure future.
There is value in asking, on a larger scale, “What kind of world do we want to live in?” What’s more valuable, upon answering, is to ask ourselves if and how we, ourselves, personally, are living, breathing, and doing that which we hope for?
Interestingly, what I hope for most, is that we (me), take this time to contemplate what really matters. To look at our individual connections – to look at what has been lost and what needs connection. To take this time to distance ourselves from what no longer has meaning or value, so that, when time and space opens back up, that we do not return to “what was” – and that we re-enter wiser; with more understanding, more usefulness, more helpfulness, and are more skillful with our words and actions.
About the Author: Laura C. Meyer, MS, offers therapeutic mindfulness and minimalism for mental and behavioral health. She maintains a private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia, and offers online insights at Live More Studio.
Hari, J. (2018). Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How To Find Hope (1st ed.). Bloomsburg, USA.