Right now it feels like the future has been put on hold. The world has hit the pause button and no one is sure exactly how the show will run when we hit play again. But it isn’t only the unknowable future that is causing societal (and personal) anxiety, it is also the past. It’s hard not to continually question what we have done both as a society and as individuals. The what-if game is dangerous.

What if China had acted sooner to isolate the outbreak?
What is the U.S. hadn’t rejected the pandemic plans started by Bush and built up through Obama?
What if I didn’t make that slightly risky investment?
What if I really did put aside 6 months emergency money when things were going well?

Between the constant guessing about tomorrow and the never-ending second guessing about the past it’s easy to spin out of control. So maybe it’s better to forget about the past and the future for now and concentrate on what is right in front of me. For now, that’s all we really have.

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
— Lao Tzu

For me this means setting up 3 non-negotiable goals each day. I know I am a better and more grounded person if I manage to read, write and run for at least 30 minutes every day. So in between teaching my classes online and continuing to work with job search clients and writing their resumes, I make reading, writing and running a priority.

This is my present. This is what I can do now to stay sane and productive. Tomorrow will be what it will be.

Quarantine Project- I studied Greek in college and have a basic understanding of conversational French, but as a self professed arm-chair classicist I’ve always felt like I should have at least a rudimentary grasp of Latin. Going to spend some time on Duo-lingo over the next month or so and see how much I can absorb. Fun way to kill time and learn a little.

Feeling guilty that I am not stressed out, annoyed, or overwhelmed. I fully realize this is different for everyone, and I feel for those who are sick, or have family members sick, or if you work in health care, but for me this whole self isolation thing has been quite pleasant so far. Remote teaching has been easy and enjoyable. I have a lot of time to read, write and run. My kids are finding ways to entertain themselves for the most part. I have even finally had time to update all my websites and social media profiles.

I know this can all change in an instant, but I’m leaning in to the enjoyment factor for now.

Perspective helps, especially when it’s historical perspective.

“It’s unfortunate that this has happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it—not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. It could have happened to anyone. But not everyone could have remained unharmed by it.” – Marcus Aurelius

Regular reminders help.

For your consideration- Sir Patrick Stewart ( Professor Xavier, Captain Picard) is reading a Shakespearean sonnet a day on his Instagram page. That is all.

All this self isolating is allowing me to plow through my Netflix queue. Just finished THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY. A lot of fun. Just what I need these days.

If anyone wants to lean into this whole seclusion vibe and embrace the silence here are a few recommendations. Movies with next to no dialogue but incredibly compelling all the same. (Basically, exactly the kind of movie I like best.)

Into Great Silence: It is an intimate portrayal of the everyday lives of Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse, a monastery high in the French Alps.

Under The Skin: Loosely based on the 2000 novel of the same name by Michel Faber. It stars Scarlett Johansson as an otherworldly woman who preys on men in Scotland.

All is Lost: Robert Redford as a man lost at sea.

And one quick reading recommendation- Montaigne’s Essays, especially “On Solitude”