The nation-wide restrictions brought in to tackle the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic has resulted in thousands of Irish people being either partially or completely out of work and education, leaving us all (for the most part) stuck at home, wondering what on earth we are all going to do with this new free time we have been given. With the 2km restriction, as well as the closure of most public and private facilities, our ability to do many of our usual hobbies is quite limited at the moment. Some of us finally got around to cleaning up the clutter around the house, or picked up a new hobby like baking or drawing, but there are many of us, myself included, that have just ended up doing what feels like a whole lot of nothing.
Finding something meaningful
I find that doing nothing gets awfully tiring and as time goes on. I am starting to notice that the feeling of being content with binge watching a constant stream of shows, endlessly scrolling through the internet or just generally engaging in things that are ultimately unproductive, is starting to wane. Instead, I want something purposeful, something that I can genuinely be happy with achieving, something that I can say to myself at the end of all of this that I am truly better for doing. But something like that is quite hard to come by. Certainly, it doesn’t just fall into one’s lap.
Recently I have found that the isolation that comes hand-in-hand with the restrictions has nudged me onto the right path to find that special thing that I am looking for and I hope that the many people that are experiencing the exhaustion that comes with doing nothing can take advantage of this unique event, to find and pursue that purposeful thing that they may be searching for too.
What brings me joy?
I have found that the isolation has forced me to look at myself more than I have beforehand, and in turn has led me to a number of realisations about myself – some of which are good, some of which that are not so much, but all of which are absolutely true and that is the only thing that really matters about them. One of the bigger realisations that I have come to is that at some point while growing up I stopped taking the time to engage in the activities that once made me experience genuine joy before. I used to play the drums before for hours on end, getting lost in the rhythm, letting the sticks flow across the kit, but since going into my final year of college and then into the working world I lost connection with it entirely. Even when I had spare time, I stopped engaging with it because I was simply too mentally drained to engage with it.
It wasn’t just playing music that I lost touch with. There were other artistic endeavours like drawing and painting which I was quite good at, a variety of different sports activities which kept me fit, more general things like being able to banter with my friends about nonsense instead of career/education-related topics and a whole host of others activities too.
This free time that we have all been given now has afforded me a chance to reconnect with these activities again. I no longer have any work or academic duties hanging over me and even though everybody is so isolated now I have never felt freer to think clearly and pursue my true passions, especially now that the novelty of my usual pastime activities (ie. mindlessly binging media content) has started to subside.
Learning from this pandemic
This renewed lease on life comes with a number of important questions for going forward. Let’s say that everybody who reads this article and/or all the people in wider society take this time to rediscover those things (usually from their youth) that brings them true joy and work through some issues that they have been able to ignore until now (which I highly recommend they do while they can), then what becomes of all of this once normality returns? Do we simply let the problems we have identified grow and fester once again? Do we allow our passions to just slip away again as we return to our work and academic duties? Do we slip back into the mindless, purposeless consumption of media as the main form of escapism away from these duties? And why was such mindless activity the go-to pastime in the first place? But on the other hand, such duties are part of growing up – a nation won’t last if all its people just follow their passions day in and day out.
Rediscover your passion
So, what should we do? At this point in time, I am not entirely sure. The one thing I know is that I can’t fall back into the rut I was in once work resumes and I need to be much more conscious of my actions and feelings. I need to balance the duties that come with being an adult, with making time to once again engage with my real passions. In fact, I think a healthy society really needs all its people to balance these things. Thinking of where I was and where so many other Irish people were before COVID-19 hit, I am reminded of a quote by an American philosopher by the name of Henry David Thoreau. He stated that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” referring to the lack of fulfilment that the average person experiences in their life. So, going forward, if there is one goal to be achieved during the pandemic and after it ends, it is to reconnect with your passion, make time for it and integrate it into your life. I am absolutely sure that you can find yours and I really hope that you do. In the meantime, I’m off to make some music!