Is there anything that could make you feel more helpless than forced home arrest while a plague storms the globe?
I am a futurist, and science writer, as well as an ecopsychologist and farmer. I have been spending a lot of hours in the question, of what can I do? Although it’s true that my husband and I are spending more time watching shows and movies, we are revisiting everything with a fresh perspective.
Our work day lives have changed. My husband worked on contract, and that is over. I work from home, anyway, but I am not used to such constant confinement. If I feel this, I know that people in cramped apartments feel it even more. Nevertheless, you can empower yourself to try new things.
Do new stuff
On the farm where we live, we have begun to take evening walks with our cat. I’ll call him Joe. Joe is an older kitty, napping out his retirement. He has been with us since he was rescued from the streets as a tiny, parasite ridden kitten.
Joe is really loving it. That we can spend some time outdoors, among blossoming citrus and coffee flowers, is a bonus that helps our mental health. Invariably, we also see weeds and invasive plants we pluck out, decreasing our daytime workload.
We prepare boxes of food for the neighbors, and for the food bank exchange. We often have too much of one fruit, and not enough of other produce. If you find a way to exchange (leave on their driveway, in our case) anything of value that you can share with others, you will find a great reward in feeling like you have both some control, and some beneficial influence.
We culled through a lot of our junk. We continue to do so. We are giving away books that others have no access to these days, since the library and stores closed. I went through a huge box of cards and empty stationary notes. I filled out about a dozen and sent them to a retirement home where isolated people may have limited access to social interaction.
I am not sure how a total stranger will react to getting a “thinking of you” card from faraway, but at the very least, it will make their days more interesting.
Think of yourself shut away from friends and family in an isolated facility, would you want to know that someone, somewhere, knows and cares that you exist?
Have less stuff
We are also looking into giving away or selling the many collections of old hobbies, toys, and games to which we are sentimentally attached.
Nothing seems to focus the mind better about how quality time is worth more than jumbles of junk, than seeing how material things have taken over your life, and your living space.
My husband especially is addicted to technology and new gadgets. These days, he does well with fixing up older ones, now, but the constant shopping is significantly decreased, and we have less packaging trash piling up. Having more time on his hands than income, he took apart our big screen television and then put it all back together for a better picture.
If you have some things that are more clutter than contribution to your life, this is good housebound time to attack the storage closet with purpose.
We cleaned up our construction and creative “commons” area. This has been put off for years as a cluttered area. Now, we are actually revealing workspace to tackle projects like stepping stones and shelf construction.
Learn more stuff
I continue to write about how this new knowledge of health and lifestyle will likely change our whole world forever. It will not necessarily be for the worse.
We can all learn to share resources. Already, people are exchanging more information than ever before about self-protection, preventative health habits, and better food and nature relationships. In doing so, we can avoid self-destructive ways (like habitat destruction, wildlife trafficking, and eating too much meat and junk food) that expose pathogens such as the Coronavirus, Swine flu, and all the illness borne from livestock, poultry, and pollution that they cause.
Everywhere, everyone can learn their personal power to reduce carbon footprints by eating more local and supporting local business. Right now, we need also to respect and protect our health care workers, and service people. We can put a sign in the window, at the very least.
I can also assure you, that suddenly, more people care about the truth of science, and the benefit of knowledge. We are watching more university lectures than ever before, and finding deep and meaningful lessons in “knowing better.”
We human beings may have neglected the real world for too long, but we are learning fast.
As an ecopsychologist, I can tell you that there are signs people are taking their separation from nature seriously. Many people, including us, are accustomed to getting outdoors for both exercise — long hikes in our case — and social interaction. But now every local park is shut down.
The outdoor world, as many of us have seen from our sofa-bound news feed, is getting a break from our stuffed traffic lanes, and busy waterways. We are using fewer trains, planes, and automobiles. But our separation from nature poses a new danger. We can’t remove ourselves from our environment, our challenge is to live more harmoniously with the natural world, including the much put upon forests and oceans we need for life to thrive.
Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual life depend upon belonging.
Many modern jobs require online lives. It is easy, and hazardous, to become oblivious to the world and environments around us which have become a twenty-four-hour resource store. Did you know the original Amazon is a river?
Often, in our indoor lives, we don’t know where our food comes from. We don’t care how much carbon is pumped out by our daily commute, or our convenient delivery services. We didn’t take time to remove our earbuds and hear birdsong. We may stare at our phones instead of a spectacular sky.
We were so focused on work hours and income, we forgot that we are not here to earn money and consume everything, we are here to celebrate, and appreciate, life itself.
For some years, we didn’t notice even how spring, the life-saving amazement of rebirth, unfolds as a seasonal miracle. Warmer weather in most places means less flu season weather. It also means that on many calendars, resurrection and new life is all around us.
If you want personal empowerment, nature teaches resilience, strength, beauty, inspiration, and knowledge.
It seemed to take a pandemic for so many of us to realize all these things. We realize how much as we depend upon clean air, water, food, and shelter and each other.