Quaran-time: Too much or not enough?

And just like that, we kissed March goodbye.

But if the 8,000 days in March began in earnest on 3/11/20 (i.e. the day they cancelled sports) – April’s gonna feel like 12,400 days.

8,000 x 31 / 20 = 12,400.

Adding insult to injury, April’s familiar signposts have all been eviscerated: Spring Break, Baseball’s Opening Day, Coachella. Heck, you don’t even need to file your taxes in April.

Time and its passage have always played a vexing and complicated role in our lives.

And it turns out that quaran-time is a peculiar beast.

Let me explain.

Rumor has it that 30-somethings without kids are using quaran-time to bake sourdough bread.

Seriously, if you have time to bake sourdough bread – I hate you. (Kidding! I still love you but I’m jealous AF.)

But it’s not just the sourdough bros who are feeling this unhinging of time as we once knew it.

There’s the “grounded” management consultants, savoring weekday family dinners over the pursuit of United Global Services frequent flier status. (Look it upit’s cray.)

There’s the ER doctor, beginning an eleven hour shift at 4pm. And their partner, nervously awaiting their arrival the next morning.

Then there’s Lisa and I, who have watched more Netflix in 20 days, than we did in the past three years.

As one RadReader told me, “I’ve realized how irrelevant time is.”

Yesterday at 3 PM, I plopped a beach chair in my driveway.

I was semi-bored and semi-anxious… and wholly-exhausted.

(It was also 45 minutes too early to start drinking.)

As I waited for anyone to walk by – just so I could wave hello – I remembered a quote from the late John O’Donohue:

“Stress is a perverted relationship to time.”

I’d written about this angst in January 2018 as I tried to jam in some productivity (double speed podcasts, anyone?) while rocking my then-six month old:I have a complicated relationship with time. It probably originates from the reductionist statement “Time is money.” This corrosive aphorism acts as a silent governor of many of my deepest thoughts.

A year later, I followed up this post with Time is money: Smart spending decisions to buy back time. The piece is sooooo cringeworthy, especially when you’re living in Quaran-time. I mean, it included a downloadable spreadsheet of ways to buy back time:

Seriously, I’m embarrassed to re-read this. (Ya know, us writers need to grow up too.)

But two things jump off the page. First, how few of these are actually possible during Quaran-time.

Second – and more importantly – when you distill life down to its most basic essence – health, family, food and shelter (and cuddles… and laughs) – things like “shipping luggage in advance to safe on airline fees and time at the terminal” seem completely banal and irrelevant.

And their irrelevance may extend well beyond our time in Quaran-time. Maybe forever.

A common refrain over the past few weeks from fellow RadReaders has been: “I don’t want to go back.”

No, we aren’t rooting against a vaccine.

Yes, we want to escape this economic calamity as quickly as possible.

And we collectively yearn that our overextended healthcare professionals get a well-deserved break (and raise).

But in the mundanity of Quaran-time, many of us have accidentally stumbled upon serenity, calm and contentment. A reader texted me this:

My spiritual teacher and homie Andrew Taggart has been beating the drum that Quaran-time has presented each of us with an “existential opening.”

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink our relationship with time, work, money and – ultimately – ourselves.

What happens when we loosen our grip on the guiding belief that “I am finite, time is scarce, and this world is all there is?”

You discover umami.

Technically, umami is the “fifth taste” – after salt, sweet, sour and bitter. It’s the savoriness of a perfectly grilled hamburger and the sensory delight of Parmesan.

To use toddler language, umami is deliciousness or a case of the yummies.

And in our slowed-down-everyday-ness, we’ve all tasted a bit of this deliciousness.

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