“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” William James
My late mother, an opera singer, used to tell me that the music was the easy part; it was all the other stuff surrounding the music that was difficult. She was right; I would not have enough material to write a Choral Ethics blog every week if she had been wrong. In the midst of a Pandemic, it is truer than in normal times; the other stuff is more difficult.
I’ve been getting emails for about two weeks concerning something I’m call “Pandemic Shaming.” You’ve probably seen it on your own Social Media; someone you know (your colleague, a classmate, or friend) is doing Great Things in isolation. Those Great Things can be practicing 10 hours a day, writing the Great American Oratorio (or Novel)and perhaps learning another language (and becoming swiftly fluent in it–Portuguese seems to be popular) or something equally impressive. The classes and ensembles they are teaching or conducting are making such progress via e-learning or their community chorus is having weekly Zoom rehearsals and loving it. They muse (on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) about how they don’t understand how anyone CANNOT be productive with this “gift” we’ve all been given–of time and solitude. I would venture a guess that these folks sound too good to be true and the rest of us should take all their “thriving in the time of Pandemic” with a grain of salt.
Most of the emails I’ve received from ChoralNetters are about how they don’t measure up to the examples of their colleagues and classmates and friends. Many of these folks, who are normally so self-assured, are experiencing their first bouts of self-doubt and that’s why they’ve written me. That somehow, the way they, personally, are handling things is not quite right, not the way they should be handling things. They want to know HOW to do it better, how to handle it better. They ask me quite pointedly; what are they SUPPOSED to do?
My correspondents have lost gigs they were counting on, especially during Lent and Holy Week, and are feeling the financial pinch. Someone they love has been hospitalized or quarantined with COVID and they are worried and frightened because they can’t see them. Or they have tested positive and are quarantined and are not able to see their loved ones. Not having a regular schedule or something to work toward has thrown them. They are not eating, or are not eating properly. They feel sluggish, or are super-hyper, and are sleeping much more, or much less. They feel lousy because they can’t get a haircut or their nails done. And speaking of personal hygiene, they can’t motivate themselves to take a regular shower or wash their hair or get dressed most days.
My correspondents asked for ways they can cope but we all need help to get through this difficult time. I’ve done some research for myself and for all of you. Some of the suggestions I’ve found seem so simple but make so much sense. I’ve adapted a few for this Choral Life we share.
- Try to keep your regular schedule—get up and go to bed at the same times if possible.
- Follow your own typical personal hygiene routines and get dressed every day. You don’t need to dress the way you normally would but put on some clothes!
- Try to eat meals at your normal times. And make yourself eat something every day, whether you feel like it or not.
- Try to do one productive thing every day. If all you are able to do is make your bed or do the dishes, so be it.
- If you feel like practicing, practice. And if you don’t, don’t beat yourself up—tomorrow is another day.
- If you are sheltering-in-place with your family and especially, your children, do what you need to do FOR THEM. It will actually HELP YOU if you need to keep it together.
- Read something every day. Catch up on your reading for pleasure or read something you need to research for your chorus.
- If you feel like “vegging out” in front of the television and binge watching, do so. But only once a day.
- Try a recipe you’ve always wanted to or make your favorite meals. Recreate a favorite meal from your childhood and if that’s a can of Spaghetti-Os with Twinkies for dessert, so be it!
- Get some exercise and fresh air. Practice Yoga breathing or Alexander Technique breathing. Open a window if you are not able to get outside.
- Only check your Social Media at the times you would normally do so. If you need to check more often because of E-learning or are in charge of your chorus’s Social Media accounts, don’t look at your personal accounts except at the regular times.
I’m sure most of you have experienced many or ALL of the same things as my correspondents. How are you handling it? What are YOU doing to cope? Please share your ideas in the comments–you could really help someone.
You do you, don’t compare yourself to anyone else and how they are handling this whole COVID Pandemic. Until next week—be well.
I am taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page for the foreseeable future. Please join me there this morning!