Maybe you’re with your family. Maybe you’re with your kids. Maybe you’re on your own. Wherever you are, boredom or a sense of wasted time doesn’t have to shadow your movements. Amidst the chaos and the uncertainty, this is an opportunity to quiet down and look into yourself. Or have a blast of a time doing what you love.
Look out the window at the movement of the clouds or the waving branches of a tree. Breathe in and out. Everything comes and goes in this life—it’s something that the wind, the clouds, the leaves remind us over and over again.
Challenge yourself to do nothing at all for at least half an hour. Just sit still in a quiet place. Notice your body’s reaction to your willful inactivity, first the resistance, the need to do something (the monkey mind), and then slow release of the tension that comes with patience, the calming down.
Read Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year. Compare what happened in 1665 in London to what is happening now, and you will see how much better prepared we are and why there’s no reason to panic.
Call someone you always meant to call but never got the chance to—whether it’s a long-lost friend, a distant relative, or someone to whom you have something meaningful to say, or whose voice you just want to hear.
Do some pushups or crunches. Or do some aerobic exercises. Do it because it’s healthy, because it helps you deal with any latent stress you may carry. And because it will make you feel good.
Sort your photo collection. Savor the wonderful power of photos to transport you back in time, conjuring the mood and the sensory memory that you had back then. Free up space on your device for the many photos you are going to make once the pandemic stabilizes.
Write a digital letter to someone you never wrote a letter to before and tell them something that you always meant to tell them but never had the chance to.
Practice an instrument or do some painting. Maybe you have an oboe in your wardrobe. Or an easel in your attic. Use music or art to express what you cannot express in words. Whether it’s deeply sad or bravely hopeful, put all your heart into it to make it yours.
Handwrite a poem. It doesn’t have to rhyme, and you don’t have to share it with the world if you don’t want to. Make it about the coughing wards or the music of the rain on your rooftop or the blaring sound of ambulances rushing on the street, noisy wounds gaping in the silence. Outstare the paper and make your poem about anything you want to make it about.
Challenge yourself not to watch or read the news at all for an entire day. Don’t worry that something momentous will happen and you’ll miss it—big news has a way of reaching us on its own through others.
Grab the Kamasutra and try all the postures with your partner. If you are healthy and happy and in love, you may not have a better chance than this to perform audacious erotic experiments. If the universe wants you to be healthy and safe, make the most of it.
Pick an old book from a dusty shelf and read from it. It doesn’t matter what’s about. Go along with it wherever it takes you. If you start feeling bored, stop and put it back on the shelf. Try another.
Eat something good and then lie down and summon a beautiful memory. Don’t just remember it—inhabit it. Go back as far as your childhood and your earliest memories. Or to your first kiss. Or to a particularly good trip or date you had. The act of remembering is dynamic and creative—if you plunge deep enough into it, it’s like swimming beneath the surface of your consciousness, seeing all the interesting creatures and effects there that you can’t normally see.
Listen to the silence. Let your thoughts settle like the color of a freshly brewed cup of tea and hear what the silence is saying, hear the murmur between your thoughts, the pull of desire or hope or love or inspiration. What do you long for? Have you been truthful to yourself lately? When the world forgets its sorrows, will you go after it?
Turn off all devices and gadgets, disconnect from all people, and find a quiet corner. Consider what is important in your life—what is truly important. If the day after tomorrow you would become feverish and they would take you to the hospital and diagnose you with COVID-19 and you would be one of the 4.5% serious cases, how would you spend tomorrow? What things you wouldn’t do? What things would you do more of?
Appreciate your health through meditation. Lie down in bed or sit in a comfortable armchair. Begin by feeling your breathing, the in-breath, the out-breath, the swinger in your chest. Then close your eyes and scan your body, focusing your attention on every part of your body by turns. Feel your brain, the seat of your consciousness; feel it from within as its pulsating with life and thoughts. Feel your forehead, your skull, the globes of your eyes, the funny anatomy of your ears, feel your nostrils flaring imperceptible with your breathing; feel your lips, your mouth. Feel the long lines of your arms and the branch-like bones of your fingers. Feel your fingers, each one of them. Feel the curving line of your spine and the warm, soothing darkness inside of you. Feel your lungs filling with air, your heart beating, your stomach quietly at work digesting your last meal. Inhabit your healthy body—feel the warm unity of your cells and the easy lightness of the absence of pain. Feel the silent wonder of being alive and aware of it.
Which one of these things will you try out?