Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting
I hope you might consider this: What happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open. What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped. Here it is. We’re in it.
What is about to be unleashed on American society will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again. It will come from brands, it will come from government, it will even come from each other, and it will come from the left and from the right. We will do anything, spend anything, believe anything, just so we can take away how horribly uncomfortable all of this feels.
From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud.
I hope we don’t ever go back to normal.
Before this pandemic launched all of us—unwillingly—out of our routines, millions of people were already suffering. From an economy that works only for the very few, from a healthcare industry that can bankrupt you for getting sick, from a housing crisis that leaves hundreds of thousands of people unsheltered.
I hope we don’t rush back to how life was before and keep lying to ourselves that those problems can’t be fixed. We’ve seen that our government and businesses can work harder to support us. We should use this unprecedented opportunity to hold them to that and change our sense of normal to something better.
I feel oddly normal for how weird things are in the world right now.
My life as a from-home worker hasn’t really changed much. I’m still working from my couch, still wearing my daily uniform of leggings and hoodies, still spending my free moments with my usual hobbies of cooking and reading, still taking care of my health with yoga and walks around the block.
I even think my anxiety levels have lowered. Most of the items on my list of Things I Should Be Doing have been erased for me. No mundane errands, no social events to stress about and cancel at the last minute, no family get-togethers that I’d really rather not attend.
I am worried about family and friends. I am worried about the huge numbers of people who will get sick and die. I am worried about everyone who works at grocery stores and restaurants and small businesses. I am worried about everyone who is facing dire financial circumstances. But it all feels so big and out of my control that it’s not worth spending the energy to actively worry about it, so instead, I go about my regular day.
I’m focused on the very simple things that I can do. Stay home. Check in with my friends and family. Support my favorite local businesses when I can. Take care of my own health and wellbeing.
I’m even a little hopeful that just maybe, the chaos of these moments will push us toward something better. We’re all experiencing how horrible a capitalist system is at dealing with this problem. And we’re seeing how we actually can have nice things like paid sick leave, work from home days, and universal basic income.
I truly hope we don’t go back to business as usual once this is all over. I’d much rather create a new normal.
Are you willing to embrace that truly slight inconvenience — and maybe pay a few dollars more — so that a person’s job is significantly less shitty? Think about in practice: are you willing to wait five more minutes for an Uber so that, when you get in, you know that your drive has health insurance and is making a living wage? Are you willing to pay $4 more for your yoga class (YOUR YOGA CLASS!) so that your teacher, who you likely venerate, can have some semblance of the stability/peace you yourself are attempting to find BY GOING TO YOGA??? Are you willing to have slightly less so that others can have significantly more? Or, as I like to think about it, do you actually care about other people?
Lately, lots of us are thinking and talking about burnout. How our work and daily routines are making us tired and sucking the joy out of our lives. We’re starting to think about what actions we can take to alleviate the feeling of burnout in our own lives. But this article asks us to think about how our actions can create burnout in other people.
In a small sense, that means respecting the boundaries of our colleagues, friends and family in a golden rule type fashion (do unto others…etc). But in a larger sense, that means buying into systems that respect those boundaries and allow us feel like real humans instead of meaningless cogs in the capitalist machine. And maybe MAYBE making a small, slightly uncomfortable impact on our own lives in an effort to make a much larger, game-changing impact on someone else’s life.
I think this idea is so important and one we don’t often think about. Don’t we all just want everything cheaper, faster, bigger? If it comes at the expense of another person’s wellbeing and financial stability, personally I’d rather have it a little more expensive, slower and smaller.
I found this article courtesy of Jocelyn K. Glei‘s newsletter which always has really great links about work, creativity, and making your life more enjoyable.