When life becomes difficult, I often turn to one specific line from a Sheryl Crow song. “It’s not having what you want. It’s wanting what you’ve got.”
This is time of great uncertainty. Not just at Penn State. Not just in the United States. This is a global time of not knowing what is next. And at times like this it is really easy to focus on the negative—all the things you can’t have or do. We can’t be in our law school building. We can’t hang out with friends. We can’t eat in restaurants or drink in bars. We can’t attend live music concerts or festivals (and many of you know this is my favorite thing to do!). We’re all going a little stir crazy. But changing the focus to the positive side can go a long way in uncertain times.
We are fortunate in so many ways. We can’t be in our law school building. But classes and services are still happening through the magic of technology that didn’t even exist not too long ago. We can’t hang out with our friends in person. But we can call. We can Facetime. We can Zoom. We can watch Netflix together. We can use the social networks (as a Gen-Xer I’ve favored Facebook as the best way to stay in touch with friends for a very long time). We can’t eat in restaurants or drink in bars. But we can buy groceries and take-out food (and beverage). And it’s a great opportunity to explore cooking as a hobby! We can’t attend live music concerts or festivals. This one hits me close to home. But there are a lot of recordings of concerts and festivals available to view and listen to. I’m looking at this as an opportunity to listen to shows on the Internet Archive that I wasn’t able to attend . And so many musicians are doing live performances from their living rooms right now! The reality is I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to ticket prices for canceled festivals being refunded to my credit card. Not-quite-quarantine is saving me a boatload of money!
We are, however, all going a little stir crazy. It’s important to practice some self-care at this time. Go for a walk or a run. Fire up the YouTube workout videos. It’s important to keep your body moving, even if you can’t really go anywhere. Eat healthy foods. Loading up on chips and chocolate to drown your sadness and fear will not help anything. Eat some protein and vegetables. That will actually make you feel better. Establish a routine. I’ve done everything I can to keep my remote work life as similar as possible to my on-campus work life. I built myself a little office in the corner of my guest room. That’s my daily 8 to 5 spot. I turn on the lava lamp on top of my desk (yes….I’m very much a hippie) to symbolize the start of the day. I turn it off when I finish working for the day. I (usually) take a shower before I start working. I get dressed. Not dress-up clothes—I’m not crazy! But something other than what I sleep in. These little steps make me feel more normal. In a time that is very much not normal. And I have to say, I’m liking it. I’m comfortable in my new routine, and a little bit of comfort goes a long way right now.
It’s not having what you want. It’s wanting what you’ve got. And right now I’m so amazingly grateful that I’ve got so much that I want.