Keeping it Real: Tips for a More Sustainable and Natural Life
After nearly five months of a “new normal,” I’m starting to feel like nothing will ever feel quite like it’s “normal” ever again—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing: there are plenty of adaptations we’re making as a society that I fully believe we should embrace well after the quarantine is over.
No Workplace Like Home
First off, I fully realize the value of breaking up the monotony of life by spending one’s time in disparate locations: if I could get back to my gym right away, I would. However, for far too long employers have argued that they couldn’t hire certain kinds of people—the differently-abled, for example, or the single parent—with particular, specialized needs for home-life balance because it would ultimately affect the employer’s bottom line. With the overwhelming ability for many businesses—including my own—to adapt to an exclusively “online” infrastructure, it’s clear that differently-situated potential employees should be hired to conduct business from home. If we want the economy to bounce back, it’s time to think outside of the “brick-and-mortar” box and grant non-traditional employees the opportunities they deserve.
The (Partially) Social Network
I can’t encourage this enough—Facetime your parents, Skype your friends, and send some “snail-mail” to that all-too-tempting potential love interest. I have been desperate for human contact throughout this lockdown; I miss those extra-long hugs with best friends, and I miss kisses on the cheek from my favorite aunt, and I certainly miss chilling in front of a Netflix-emblazoned screen while canoodling on the couch with that special someone (as we both dutifully ignore the finer plot points of whatever program we’re binging) as much as anyone. However, the lack of in-person physical contact hasn’t kept me from employing a myriad of means to show a vast array of contacts what they mean to me. It’s a practice I’ll continue, as I continue to keep things real; I might not be able to see Great Aunt Cindy in person for her birthday several years from now, even after all this is over: but I’ll make sure I spend a minimum effort to simply make a phone call. As we all know by now, a friendly voice on the telephone can do wonders for the most isolated souls. I don’t want to squander the technology we’ve been blessed with after I stop feeling like I need it anymore to be social.
I’ve stopped caring—not in an unhealthy way, and not altogether—but, I’ve stopped giving the opinions of others so much power over me. Who needs pounds of makeup, after you realize that you look pretty darn happy, lovely, and bright without it—especially after investing in some products that improve what nature already blessed you with? I can craft my appearance to my tastes, and without suffering any repercussions from anyone but myself. Sure: did I take it a tad too far when I felt a little depressed those first few weeks, and wore the same sweatpants for nigh on six days in a row? Perhaps—but not a soul aside from myself ever knew that I’d been cocooned in them for days on end, despite the numerous Zoom meetings. Let’s continue to be a bit easier on ourselves when all this is over.
Self-Discipline and Self-Worth
I know: I just said take it easy, why bring up the “discipline” now? Well, because life—even a locked-down life—requires balance, and balance can’t be achieved without self-discipline. That doesn’t mean I have to come out of lockdown with a body as toned as Scarlett Johansson’s, nor a mind as honed as Mary Wollstonecraft’s; but, it does mean that I have to make a conscious effort, every day, to hold myself to some sort of physical and intellectual standard. Even if the discipline simply means that I workout and enjoy a study session on one day—and just stretch a bit and enjoy a Netflix binge on another—I still need to do something that stimulates me, every day: and that’s a practice worth keeping.
It’s the Ecology, Stupid
Inadvertently—by not driving wherever we like, whenever we like—we’re collectively taking better care of the planet than we have in a long while. It’s not just the car fumes: by staying home, and reducing purchases while also holding on to older items, we’re making less waste. Personally, I’ve taken up composting as well, to better feed the food that I’ve got growing in the backyard. In some ways, the quarantine has forced us back into a quainter time. I’m not saying we’ve got to go all “Andy Griffith” here (wait, is that on Netflix?), but it’s clear that there are some behaviors with some long-lasting impacts that we can keep making after we’re all allowed to see each other in person again: and, if we keep this up, then we’ll really have something to hug each other about.