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Interlude: 40 Days in Isolation

Today marks 40 days in isolation for me. In the Bible the number 40 shows up a lot, in the context of being tested. I think we all feel tested right now. Noah built an ark to survive the rain and flooding that went on that long. Moses spent that amount of days on Mount Sinai before coming back with the Ten Commandments. Goliath harassed the army over that period before David stepped up with his sling. Jesus was tempted for 40 days, and there were 40 days between his resurrection and ascension.

A lot of “hustle culture” people have pushed for using this great cultural pause constructively. Learn new skills. Work on create projects. Put together business plans.

Mental health advocates have tried to balance that. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t find the energy or emotional bandwidth to be productive. Engage in acts of self-care, because this is stressful in unprecedented ways.

I’ll opt for the middle path. Use this time wisely. Define that however you need to. If this is an opportunity, seize it. If you need to step back from the world, do so. We have no map for this. There’s no right way to deal with it. There are wrong ways, clearly, but that’s called “being selfish and willfully ignorant”.

Clearly I’m trying to do both, in balance. I think I had to obsessively consume news for the first few weeks, in order to process this. It rendered me incapable of doing creative work. I couldn’t force myself to write. I needed to go with the flow, which meant changing projects. Right now I’m actively quarantining myself from the news, because I need to process emotions rather than data. It’s also how I’m able to work, so I can keep paying the bills and living my life.

If nothing else, use this moment for reflection. Identify your needs and work from there. Action will come when it comes.

40 Days in Isolation

  • This week I am not posting about anything that happens beyond the walls of my apartment.
  • I am checking email and Twitter DMs twice a day, once after lunch and once after dinner EEST (UTC +3).
  • The majority of my time is spent writing and reading.
  • Current work in progress: DoubleZero
  • Currently reading: Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
  • Today is Day 40 in isolation, in case you missed the entire post above and skipped right to the end.

3 replies on “Interlude: 40 Days in Isolation”

In Kabbalah, 40 denotes a lifetime. I’m sure you can run with that quite the distance.

Selfishly I’ll admit I wish I had been in isolation all this time. I keep my mask on (literal and figurative) all the time, but being part of the active world while the quarantine is in effect has been quite draining. It’s like we’re in a different kind of isolation. To borrow the imagery, if those sheltering are the survivors, being part of the essentials sometimes feel like we’re the zombies, or at least we’re passing as zombies in order to survive.
Can you tell I’m ready for a vacation?

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