Coping with COVID: A Return to Self

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Concert halls have fallen silent. Art galleries are vacant. Theatres are void of people. This is our new reality, a temporary stop or PAUSE, as Governor Cuomo refers to it. And he says it accompanied by the idea that this is hard, and New Yorkers are “tough.”

For a society that has found value in being busy, constantly moving, seeking entertainment, this moment of stillness seems to be going on way too long. Many Nipper fans have reached out to us asking for direction as to how to spend free time and lose themselves – or at the least distract themselves – somehow in music or art.

Because during the week, many can work remotely, or distract themselves with family obligations. But weekends stretch out in front of us, minutes seeking to somehow be filled with activity that no longer exists. The time seems to move slowly, with so little left to take our energy.

Happy woman jumping and enjoying life in field at sunset in mountains

Prior to the giant pause, Nippertown was bustling with almost too many events to choose from, often leading Jim and I to cover two or three events a night. The pace was hectic, frantic almost, but certainly also energizing.

So what does life in the time of COVID look like?

Initially, we all watched the live stream concerts daily to stay in touch with the scene. But even those over time became somewhat frustrating due to poor internet connections, lag times, scratchy audio, and the sense of isolation even while connecting electronically. So now we watch them, but instead of three or four a night, we grasp for that connection only a few times a week.

We’ve been forced, somewhat, as a culture to accept the pause, the stillness. Some people turned to activities that are more homebound, like baking bread. As grocery stores ran out of yeast and flour due to this increase in baking, it became apparent those in the capital region were home making old recipes with loved ones, nurturing our senses while filling our bellies.

But one can only eat so much before seeking movement. Yard work and gardening was a logical response to eating, burning off carbs and absorbing sunlight. Recent lines at Lowes can take up an hour easily on a weekend.

I am also seeing runners at an increased rate pacing themselves as they run up our steep hill that boundaries our property. There is an uptick in virtual races, including the Freihofer’s Race that has gone virtual.

And then there is farming. Newspaper articles have filled local papers with stories about those raising baby chicks. Even towns like Niskayuna, which previously banned fowl, are considering allowing egg laying hens as part of a pandemic response, siting “educational opportunities” and “wholesome family entertainment” as real objectives to the initiative.

It seems to me, though, that we are still running from ourselves, and running to something to do, a way to occupy our brains and keep us away from our worries.

That’s not a criticism, and in fact if we are running to soothe ourselves with activities that are healthy, why not? Why not immerse ourselves in deep listens of our old vinyls at home, diving into music with focus that typically we can’t spare time for during busier weeks. Why not start seeds for vegetable gardens with dreams of sugar snap peas eaten warmed from the sun and our toes in the cool soil beneath us? Why not walk the dog and breathe in the blue sky?

Why not?

So stop staring at your screens, Nipper Fans, and get out there in the sunshine, or go into your living room and really be present re-reading your favorite poetry, listening to those songs from high school that are musically better than you knew then, and look through art books.

Who knows when the next time will come that you have days and days stretching before you like a giant smile, waiting for you to wander in and find yourself swimming in music and art again?

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