Apr 27 2020

The Disorientation of Exiting Phase 1

We are starting to exit phase 1 of the Covid Crisis in the United States. If you find the whole thing extremely disorienting, you have my empathy.

In mid-April, I was getting used to the Stay at Home mode. I’d joke about how I was made for this and was never leaving my house again.

Last weekend I took a digital sabbath and woke up feeling energized on Monday. By Wednesday there was talk everywhere about opening things back up in various parts of the country. I struggled with this based on what I knew and was relieved when, at least in Colorado, I realized that it wasn’t really opening things up but rather relaxing some of the constraints that existed.

But the narrative is complicated. It’s made worse by the contrast of getting used to the existing Stay at Home mode with the uncertainty around relaxing some of the constraints. For me, this was made amplified by the intense pressure in some of the discussions I had, as many people were scared, frustrated, confused, anxious, and uncertain.

I was exhausted Thursday at the end of the day and went to bed at 6:30pm. I slept soundly until 7:00am Friday morning. I didn’t really feel any better when I woke up. As I meditated, I realized I was anxious about a cough I had, and even though it was probably springtime allergies, my brain kept going to Covid. My back was hurting again, which was probably a result of sitting in front of my computer or in my Zoom room for 12 hours a day. My brain was tired from the week, but as I meditated, I kept coming back to feelings of fear and discomfort.

I focused on work throughout the day and planned to take a digital sabbath on Saturday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I saw two meetings had appeared on my calendar. It was a beautiful day, but I decided to work. As Amy slept, I did the dishes, started my laundry from the week, and worked through what felt like an infinite pile of email.

At dinner time, Amy looked at me and told me I needed to take a break. She was unyielding and correct. We talked some and I started to realize that I was scared about the shift away from Stay at Home. All of my underlying frustration was really fear. The more we talked, the more I realized how disoriented I was feeling. While I was relieved that Denver County and Boulder County had extended the Stay at Home order until May 8th, I was agitated that Weld County had not, and I was complaining about Californian’s on the beach ignoring the social distancing requirements.

Amy told me I was taking Sunday off.

I took my digital sabbath on Sunday. I meditated in the hot tub and listened to the birds. I read. I called my mom and caught up. I took a long afternoon nap. I did my weekly Zoom social call with Will, Warren, and Dave. I watched the Series Finale of Homeland. I went to bed early.

I woke up this morning realizing that the anxiety I felt building up last week was simply disorientation related to fatigue, fear, and uncertainty around change. While I try to deny and power through this, I recognize that I’m in a much better, or more privileged, or safer, or pick whatever phrase you want that signifies “easier” position to deal with this situation than many. But the weight of it still, well, weighs on me.

As the birds start waking up this morning, and the sky starts to lighten, I choose to embrace a new day. And simply begin again.