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Notes from Blursday: How the Pandemic Shifted My Perception of Time

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Yes, it’s hot in Phoenix. I mean, it is July, so the idea that it’s hot isn’t really that much of a shocker. What is remarkable is this year’s level of heat intensity. And the fact that there’s no relief in sight.

Every morning I get up and check the weather. And every day the forecast looks more like the recommended internal temperature for a grilled steak than for the air in which any human should be expected to live and breathe.

It’s not all bad though. One of the nice side-effects of living through this record-breaking heatwave is friends checking in on me to see if I’m still alive. One of my more eloquent friends included a great visual with her wellness check-in: “Calling to make sure you haven’t melted into a puddle of nothing but just hair…” she said. So, on that note, I’m happy to report that yes, I am alive, and yes, I remain a solid mass.

One thing I have noticed this summer is that something about the way I’m processing it all has shifted. In years past, mid-summer temps have sent me scrambling to higher elevations for a core cool down. But now, instead of daily freak-outs followed by hours of searching for Arctic igloo rentals, I’ve observed myself being uncharacteristically blasé about the ongoing threat of my internal combustion.

My attitude towards the heat this year has simply been: “Meh. Whatever. Fall will be here before you know it.” Zero action on my part required. “This too shall pass.”

And yes, one explanation certainly could be that my brain is a little fried. But I’ve also noticed this attitudinal shift showing up in other non-heat survival areas of my life. Whether it’s working to meet a deadline, plotting out a schedule, catching up with friends, or figuring out what to wear or when to start dinner, my days these days march on with a remarkable lack of urgency.

In some sense, it’s like my inner drive has been reprogrammed from a more toxic urgency and stress “Now!” mode to a more peaceful, observational, trust the process “It’s all good!” mode. I’ve been left with a deep inner knowing that everything will proceed, progress, and reach completion as it should. So in the meantime, “Whatever!”

It’s not an understatement to say that this is not my typical MO. I’ve always tended to lean into that (false) sense of control I get from researching, organizing, and creating the best made plans. Now when to-dos pop up, I just to-do them. Everything gets handled and it all feels remarkably unremarkable.

So what changed? I have naturally given it quite a bit of thought. Without subjecting you to a lot of spreadsheets or any root cause analysis, here’s where I landed:

I have shifted my perception of time.

Not in a time travel or alternate reality sort of way, but more in the way I experience time. How did this happen? When I trace it back, it all started with “blursday.” Let me explain.

Do you remember 2020 and 2021? Yeah, I don’t really either. And that’s my point. During the pandemic, I didn’t have many opportunities to go places. I mean, every other human outside of my home was a potential threat to my very existence. At least until the scientists figured out what was happening.

It’s safe to say that I lived a good portion of those 24 or so months of lock-down with very few anchors. Anchors are those out-of-the normal flow of day-to-day life events that you can tie time to. For example, a niece’s wedding, a vacation with travel, a friend’s move, your child’s first day of school, going to a concert… They are those distinct events that create snapshots as markers in your memory timeline.

And without anchors, every day becomes just another blursday.

In the midst of the pandemic, I remember the sensation of one day blending into the next into the next… Until the days became weeks became months became years. Time passed so quickly, and yet it didn’t. So much happened, and yet nothing did. If you think about it, it’s how many describe their retirement years. “What day is it?” they’ll often ask. And during the pandemic, more often than not, I didn’t know the answer either.

It’s this extended lack of daily anchoring, I believe, that shifted my relationship with time. What I experienced is that linear time is going to happen. It will carry on whether I have anything to add to its equation or not. Without any effort on my part, life forges ahead in its nice little 24-hour day-to-night-to-day increments.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to maintain this mindset in our post-pandemic reality. And even though I might be done with blursdays, I do find that some days are memorable, some still not-so-much. Some days might be busy, some not-so-much. What's different is that I don’t have to hold on so tight anymore. I don’t have to admonish myself if I’m not the “right level” of productive. There’s room to be playful, room to rest, room to create, and room to breathe. Most importantly, there’s room to just be.

What I’ve come to recognize is that everything in life is fluid and ever-changing. I can try to wish it away, while it away, or negotiate and fight my way through. Or I can be at peace and flow my way through. Ultimately, all I control is how I move through the time that I’m given.

So yeah, my days (and nights) are hot in a not so hot way right now. But you know what? I’m alive and it’s no longer blursday. So it’s all good. Fall will be here before you know it.


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