Productivity During the Coronavirus Crisis

April 23, 2020

A couple weeks ago my son sent me a meme that said "It's okay to NOT be at your most productive during a fricking global pandemic." It came at just the right time. As an introvert who opens up in occasional social settings and on stage, I had been quite comfortable staying at home, working on music, writing new tunes, tending to the plants and the weeding outside, taking a daily walk with my partner. I'm still doing those things and feeling okay mostly, but I have noticed something else creeping in. 

I like people, in small controlled doses. I like going out for pizza with Debbie and watching them. I like seeing my friends. And I like performing live, in front of actual smiling, frowning, laughing, pondering faces. It is one of the great joys of my life to connect with you in song. The satisfaction of completing some bit of organized sound and words in the form of a four minute tune climaxes in the sharing of it with true-spirit listeners. 

The Antiviral House Concerts we have been doing from the home studio fill a part of that void and I look forward to them each week. It's part of what keeps me going. And I note happily that for friends hundreds and thousands of miles away we are connecting as never before. Still, my soul misses seeing your reactions in real time. But there is more happening in the bigger picture and I see it happening with others of you too. 

I miss those gatherings with family and friends, talking, eating, joking, laughing, playing games, playing music. Pouring from the same bottle. I like going out to the movies now and again, walking the streets and observing the beautiful strangeness of human beings. And I don't know when any of this is going to happen again - safely. 

I'm going to name this creeping thing as anxiety and depression. I like knowing what the future holds. I like believing that all will be okay and what the path forward is. Now the extent of the health and economic hardship is unknown. This ought to awaken my compassion as I realize this sense of dis-ease and rootlessness is not new for many, like those in refugee camps, homeless folk, the poor, the sick and uninsured. 

While I have a lot of work to do right here and now, the creeping thing keeps interrupting the already habitually disorganized space known as my mind. I am pulled from one activity to the next with three worries interjecting in between. And then at the end of the day I pile on self-criticism for not having accomplished much. 

I can even start piling on the self-criticism in the middle of the day, like right now, for sitting and writing this instead of finishing recording my song, making a video, solving a half dozen technical issues. The truth is, I feel a little better for having written this. 

And I am the lucky one who has someone here to remind me in endless small ways, spoken and unspoken, that I am okay just the way I am, regardless of what I have accomplished. Especially if I at least took out the trash and wiped the kitchen counter. 

We are still finding what life on earth will look like in the months and years to come. I hope for a better world, a cleaner and more compassionate one. We will learn new ways of coping and being. I will continue to breath in and breath out, practicing my mindfulness and continue to let the music come out of me, because that is what I am built for and that has not, and will not, change so long as I am able. 

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" wrote Mary Oliver. And how will you do it in the days to come? 

Peace, love, joy, music! 

Merlin

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