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Reflections on Social Distancing by Jack Walsh

 

The Coronavirus is changing our lives, but we can learn to make the best of it. Adjusting to this time well is important for our wellbeing… With some effort, we can come out of this as better-formed people with a new perspective on life.

I sit here in my armchair looking out the windows to my backyard in Kansas. I’m working from home, which is the thing to do during this time of Coronavirus craziness. But this setting that I find myself in – laptop in front of me, reclined in the armchair at home, typing diligently – is not something new to me. Back in December, I seriously fractured my right ankle in an after-work climbing accident in Colorado. After emergency surgery the night of the accident and a few days in the hospital, I took a train back to Kansas to recover at home with my family. Fast forward to now: I’m still at home in Kansas and the future doesn’t seem to look much different than the last few months. What I thought would only be a couple of weeks at home has snowballed into three months. From additional surgeries to doctor’s appointments, to family needs, and now to the Coronavirus, I have been suspended in this limbo of not being able to escape my house. As a self-declared “veteran” of this way of isolated life, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the lessons that I’ve learned over the last few months, and maybe even share some helpful wisdom with you.

 

The first thing that I’d like to communicate is this: you will adjust and make it through this time. The hardest part of living and working from home is adjusting to changes. Structuring daily life, adjusting to a different setting, and finding new things to with free time are all new challenges. It’s normal to struggle a bit through major changes, so don’t expect yourself to live through the adjustment period perfectly. When I started working remotely back in the first week of January, I had a difficult time adjusting to the structure of a workday at home. I no longer had a physical place (an office) to be at to start the workday. My house became my office. It also became difficult for me to motivate myself to work, without coworkers around me who were also working. However, I took time each evening to reflect on the successes and shortcomings of the day and tried to set goals for bettering myself the following day. Within the first two weeks, I had adjusted well to the change and had developed a good daily regimen. It is important to try to make each day better than the one before. It won’t be long before you’ll be living a well-adjusted way of life at home.

 

Another thing that I learned is that in order to live in a setting like this, you will have to detach from the desire to control your life as it is. For me, losing control was not a choice. I had shattered my right ankle, which left me unable to walk or drive. I truly had to make the best of being stuck at home. I had to mentally come to grips with the fact that I would not be going out hiking, shopping, or hanging out with friends. Once I made the mental transition to the fact that I would be in isolation for an uncertain amount of time, I was able to move forward. I had to find things to do to make the best out of my free time. This started with the typical millennial pastime, Netflix. After about two weeks, I was able to stop myself and move on to other things. I realized that I couldn’t spend all of my time staring at a screen. As time progressed, I became more creative with the way that I spent my time. I started reading. Then I began to teach myself classical fingerpicking on the guitar. Now, I’m working on building my own electric guitar – and I’m more than halfway there! There are so many other ways to spend your time, but the key is to think long-term. Try to shift your mindset so that you don’t keep clinging to bits of hope that life might be the same as it was a couple of months ago. Find something that you can do for a while, or a project that you can start, and be creative about it. You’ll soon be having fun and making the best out of your situation. You might come out of this with new skills!

     

The last thing that I would like to leave you with is that, from a faith perspective, this can be a great time to grow in new ways. It is very unfortunate that we do not have access to the Sacraments in the same way that we normally do. However, if we have to restructure the professional and social aspects of our lives, then why not restructure the faith aspect? This can be a time to incorporate new practices. For me, it has been praying Night Prayer and the Rosary. I knew very little about praying either back in December, but now I try to pray them daily. This might be something different for you, but the principle is the same. Another thing that goes hand in hand with our faith is the way that we live out relationships at home. As many of us are stuck at home with our roommates and family, this is a great time for us to dive deeper into those relationships that are right in front of us. Take the time to talk about faith, to invest in good conversation, and to help each other out with personal accountability. This could be the opportunity that the Lord has presented you with to form strong, life-long relationships.

 

The Coronavirus is changing our lives, but we can learn to make the best of it. Adjusting to this time well is important for our wellbeing. Take my advice – I’ve been doing this for a few months now already! With some effort, we can come out of this as better-formed people with a new perspective on life.

Jack Walsh

Creatio Missionary Guide

Edit: Between the time of writing this and the time of its posting, I rented a car and drove back to Colorado. While at least I have been cleared to drive, I am still stuck at this house now due to the shelter-in-place regulations. Recovery is progressing, slowly and steadily!

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