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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  The Sound of Silence
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Monday, May 4,2020

The Sound of Silence

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  
Hello, Darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again. Have you been able to capitalize on the silence that has been forced upon us during the quarantine? Some enjoy spending quality time with loved ones. Others use the time to catch up on neglected tasks that we never seem to have time for. Many people are out and about running, walking, riding bikes. I definitely know it’s a gift of time. Yet, despite how often I’ve lamented about not having enough time to do things, I find myself way more distracted than expected. I always blamed my busy life for not achieving my dreams. If only I had time I’d get that book written. If only I had time I’d organize all of the old mementos from when the kids were little. If only I had time I’d ….. After about a week binge-watching all the shows I “never have enough time to watch,” I decided that if I didn’t take full advantage of this gift of time, I’d never ever ever be able to say “if only I had the time I’d…” because I was literally watching myself squander that opportunity when I began to RE-watch “Tiger King” a second time.

I am surprised by how challenging it is. I like to think of myself as a go-getter. I have dreams – big ones.

If only I had the time. It’s been an uncomfortable wakeup call to recognize that the only thing in the way of me and my dreams is ME. Even as I write this, thoughts of snacks and taking breaks sneak their way past my focused self and tempt me with all kinds of promises. How “it will only be five minutes and then I’ll get right back to it” and “I’ll do it all tomorrow – the whole day – dedicated!” And I realized that’s the story of my life.

I also realized I am not alone. Everyone I know is juggling with the same inner turmoil. Staring at unknown distances of unstructured free time ahead of us, we have difficulty navigating the days. One hour turns into the next. The fact that we can’t socialize only makes us want to socialize more. Always focusing on what we can’t do, rather than what is possible because we have nothing, literally nothing, to stop us. I’m afraid this is what separates the actual doers from the rest of us.

How lucky are we that we live in a time of the internet while we have to be socially distant? Amazing, isn’t it? Can you imagine quarantining like they had to do when the word quarantine was born? It comes from the Latin quadraginta and the Italian quaranta, both meaning “40.” During the Black Plague of the 14th century, people would be alone for 40 days before they could be around others again (if they survived). Forty days alone or with family, with no Netflix, no cable news, no Instagram or Zoom. What would we do?

A friend posted on Facebook that our grandparents survived the Great Depression, fought in WW II and endured Meatless Mondays, Wheatless Tuesdays… and we are being asked to stay home and watch Netflix. For me, that kinda put it in perspective. No doubt there are people harder hit than others, certainly those affected by the actual virus, and those hit with the shrapnel of losing their livelihood. All the more reason for me to be filled with gratitude and make the most of this gift of time that I’ve been given. I’ll let you know how it goes next month. I think I’ll be sitting at this desk for a long time to come.


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