When all of this Covid stuff first started getting serious, there was a part of me that was fearful. It was the unknown element in all of this. I was in the Caribbean. I still am. The borders were abruptly closed. Then all the businesses, except grocery stores and pharmacies were closed. The little beach town I’m in almost overnight turned into a ghost town. The streets were mostly empty. A 5 PM curfew was imposed. There was tension in the air that was palpable. Everything felt strange and surreal.
After a couple weeks or so, once I realized the grocery stores would not run out of food, the internet and power would continue to work and the sun would continue to set and rise, I settled into a new routine. The fear I initially felt gradually shifted to something unexpected... joy. I found myself surprisingly really enjoying my new routine and the surreal nature of the experience. My mood brightened.
I started taking long daily walks alone on the beach to contemplate everything happening. This is something I did frequently before quarantine, but these walks felt different. Everything felt heightened. In some weird way I’ve felt more alive throughout all this. Whatever was happening with the pandemic was so intense, it was as if it woke me up from a slumber and now I was really paying attention.
To be clear, I wasn’t enjoying the fact that there was a pandemic or that I was effectively trapped in a developing country. I was enjoying my reaction to it. It’s sort of hard to put into words, but I just felt strangely more awake and in tune with everything around me. As if the situation shifted my perspective slightly, just enough to let me see things in a new light. I realized much of life is completely out of my control and although that’s kind of scary on one hand, in a way it’s also completely liberating and humbling. If it’s out of my control, why waste my energy worrying about it?
Of course, life has always been largely out of our control, but when something like this comes so unexpectedly, you realize just how little we do control individually and just how quickly it can all change. I guess you could say quarantine has taught me to surrender. To let go of worrying about the parts of life outside of my control, which it turns out, is most of life.
But, of course, there are things in my control and even in a crazy situation like this you can find normalcy and joy. I’ve found having a routine helps, especially during a time like this.
Here’s what my quarantine schedule the last couple months has looked like:
1)Wake up around 8 am
2)Make coffee and do morning meditation
3) 9 am play guitar and work on songs
4) 10 am – work on business projects, courses, etc
5) 2 pm – break for lunch with girlfriend
6) 3 pm - Work for an hour
7) 4 pm – go to beach for a walk and swim
8) Return by 5 pm curfew
9) 6 PM – jam with new quarantine band, “Bandits Of The Apocalypse”
10) 8 pm – finish jam and edit / render video from nightly jam session
11) 9 pm – answer any unanswered emails, work on music, etc
12) 10 pm – chill with girlfriend, watch Netflix, etc
13) Sleep by 1 AM
I found myself, after a few weeks of this routine, feeling incredibly relaxed about things. I adapted to the situation and I’ve developed a new, quarantine rhythm. I started focusing much more on taking life one day at a time and not trying to figure things out too far in advance. Once the initial fear and uncertainty subsided, I realized that although there were many restrictions placed on me that were new and there was a lot up in the air, I was still free to pursue most of the things I wanted to pursue. And in fact, in many ways, it has never been a better time to pursue these things. After all, I have far fewer distractions than I normally do and a lot more forced time inside to get things done. It turns out most of my big life goals are best pursued indoors; music, songwriting, marketing, business, etc.
I’ve grown much closer to my two band-mates who live in the same building I do and who I’ve seen nightly throughout all of this. We’ve had so many strange and interesting conversations ranging from our shared concern about the pandemic to expressing our gratitude of being able to share such an interesting, surreal experience together. We’ve also spent countless hours jamming, recording and making Youtube videos. These our experiences that I’m sure when I’m older I’ll remember much more clearly than the months and years that preceded all this.
I’ve seen so many people step up and go out of their way to help others. I’ve helped as many as I’ve been able to and people have come forward to help me in unexpected and beautiful ways. It seems like humans are often at their best in times of crisis. It shocks us all out of our collective slumber and forces us into action. I think most humans are good people, we just tend to be so busy during “normal” times that we forget to take a break and check in with each other.
As we move forward, a lot of questions remain. I sometimes catch myself wondering about things in the future. When will the airports here re-open (no official date yet but lots of speculation)? What will the long-term impact on our economy and my business be? What will the music business look like a year from now? Two years from now and going forward? When will live music resume? What will life be like after all this is over? Will there be a “new normal”? Will there be a mandatory vaccine? Will we end up losing more of our freedoms and liberties? Am I going to be micro-chipped??
There are so many questions I don’t have the answer to and occasionally I catch myself thinking about and pondering these things. These are the only moments throughout all this when I feel stressed. Once I realize there is a lot I simply don’t know or have answers to yet, I remind myself to focus on the here and now and the fear and stress subside.
What can I do today? What do I want to do today? What inspires me today? When I focus my energy on these questions I quickly get inspired again. I realize that I, nor anyone else, knows exactly how all this will unfold and play out and that it makes little sense to use my time worrying about these things.
So for now, I focus on what I can control. This is always where our true power resides. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Viktor Frankl in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning”, in which he chronicled his experience as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War 2. An experience far more horrifying than being stuck at home watching Netflix on the beach.
The quote is:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
Check out my latest original song that takes a lighthearted look at the lockdown, "Bottle Full Of Wine", I recorded with my quarantine band, Bandits Of The Apocalypse.