Coping with the Madness of 2020: Shut It Down!

Grainy Black and White: Fallen Magnolia Leaves

Plans for my “Coping with 2020” series were slightly derailed because, as one of my former students put it, this week was “ugly.” There’s no other way to put it. I worked 14-19 hour days almost every day this week. COVID-19 numbers rose daily. Zeta knocked down trees and power in NOLA and other places. And it seemed the whole world expressed anxiety about what we might wake up to November 4. By Thursday, I was livid because there was no relief from the noise.

One part of 2020’s madness for me is too much doing, too much noise all the time. Everywhere we turn. Noise. Someone or something telling us what to do, how to do it, how to think. Noise. Piling up our plates. Vying for control of our time and energy. Noise. Noise we seemingly can’t escape because doom and Zoom are everywhere.

Grainy Black and White: Impatiens

So how do I cope? I shut it down. Everything. Computers. Phone. All of it. And I sit, drive, or walk in total silence.

I’ve always loved the early morning and late night quiet and the rare but not impossible moment of respite from the daily noise in the middle of the day. But silence is different. We can always find quiet. Silence, ever-present and always within reach, seeks us, but we have to be intentional about being found.

Silence. When there are too many words and too much doing. Silence. When it’s easy to grab the phone and chat away whatever spare moments we can find. Silence. When we can put in our earbuds and tune out the world through music and podcasts. Silence. When the world is loud and boisterous and simply too much.

Grainy Black and White: Begonias

So this week—in the middle of the umpteenth multitasking Zoom meeting, just after the department’s student assistant knocked with one more issue she couldn’t address—I hit mute, closed my eyes and sat in silence.

I’m sure I was on the brink of screaming, “uncle!” That moment in the midst of the chaos saved my sanity.

When the world feels like too much—get off social media, turn off the tv, turn off all screens, ignore the phone and all the doing, and hit mute.

There is freedom and calm right in the middle of the silence.

Grainy Black and White: Magnolia Pods

19 thoughts on “Coping with the Madness of 2020: Shut It Down!

  1. franhunne4u says:

    Hi, I have stopped watching the news when I stopped watching TV. I now choose what I watch from the online media libraries, which is mainly comfort TV.

    I read one online newspaper and listen to radio news several times a day and I read on the TV news website. But I choose when and how much. This made a big shift in my mood.

    That doesn’t mean I do not get news at all about all the things I dislike so much (like the racist orange buffoon that is occupying the WH right now or like rising COVID19-numbers in this country or like Global Heating releasing methane in the Arctic ..) – but I only get as much as I can take any given time.

    To be ignorant of the world outside is no solution, but to go mad about the state of the world is none, either.

    We have to look out for our own mental health. And that means we have to break the panic mode-spell news corporation try to weave around us.
    I get it, news is more exciting when there is drama. But I think we have enough drama in our day to day lives without exaggerated bad news. I do not need my news to be exciting – I need it to be accurate.


  2. revruss1220 says:

    This is the advice we all need at this moment. I especially appreciate the way you interspersed your written word with images of simplicity (via the medium of black and white photography) and beauty. All of us should intersperse our day likewise.

    Blessings to you in your search for peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Akilah says:

    Yes! Another excellent strategy. (I realize I’m reading these out of order.) I found that silence was important early on in the pandemic especially on my walks because I had been using them to call friends or listen to books/podcasts/music and at some point it was all too much so I just went with silence.

    I will probably be skipping out on a lot of social media this week because I’m already annoyed by it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Laurie says:

    I hear you! This year has been distracting and uncomfortable. I spent most of it in the garden. I zoomed many awesome classes that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.
    Here’s to better days ahead.
    I absolutely LOVE your grainy, black and white photos…Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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