This fast, fun and friendly book, Austin Kleon’s third on creativity, kept me going this past year.
In it, he offers exactly what the subtitle promises…and exactly what I needed to hear:
- Take one day at a time.
- Establish a daily routine.
- Finish each day and be done with it.
Over this past year, I took this and his other advice to heart, especially one directive that really resonated with me: “Disconnect from the world to connect with yourself.”
This phrase became my daily mantra, helping me see my COVID-induced isolation not as a punishment but as a gift.
That said, disconnecting was a challenge, especially early on. Like many others, I missed attending meetings, joining colleagues for coffee and going for walks with friends. I even missed shopping, a task I’ve never much enjoyed.
So, I was delighted when first one friend and then another invited me to Zoom with them. However, it took just two friend calls plus a handful of work-related video calls for Zoom Fatigue to set in. Even the thought of joining my beloved book club online wasn’t enough to get me to log back on.
I stayed in touch in other ways. I called my 94-year-old aunt every odd-numbered day of the week and a friend or other family member every even-numbered day. Plus I mailed at least one letter and a handful of cards each week and sent numerous emails.
But as I embraced Kleon’s advice to disconnect, my reaching out to others fell by the wayside. So did my posting on social media. Nobody seemed to notice.
Until this week.
On Tuesday, my friend and fellow writer Diane reached out to ask if I was okay as she hadn’t received a reply to an email and realized that my last Facebook post was on April 2 and my last tweet on April 5. Today, I received a similar email from Maery, also a friend and fellow writer.
My friend Laurie also checked in, wondering how I was doing with what she referred to as “reverse pandemic whiplash.”
The answer? I’m not sure.
After a year of isolating from everyone who wasn’t family, I finally got vaccinated and ventured out to get a long overdue haircut and join my book group in person for the first time in more than a year. It was wonderful to be together, outdoors and face to face on a beautiful Saturday morning.
However, getting together made me realize I’m still not ready to return to the out-and-about life I led pre-COVID.
Instead, I am still eager to connect with myself and, as Kleon states, that means disconnecting—not because I’m afraid of the virus, but because I want to thoughtfully add back in only those people and activities that fit the person I am now, a person I don’t yet know very well.
Am I the same go-go-go person I was or have I become more of an internal seeker rather than external doer? Are all my friendships ones I want to carry with me or are there some I am ready to let go of? What about my hopes and dreams? How have they changed?
These are some of questions I’m striving to answer while I get to know myself and before I once again find myself caught up in the busyness of life.
What about you? Have you disconnected from others to connect with yourself? If so, what have you learned along the way?