Staff Writer

If your life is anything similar to mine, by now you have attended at least a handful of Zoom, Google Classroom, or other video chat meetings. By now, you have taught subjects you haven’t thought of since your childhood or teenage years. At this point in time you are at your maximum capacity for teaching, family time and cooking.

In March our lives were abruptly altered. The pandemic of COVID-19 dismantled every single calendar of every single household.

In March, we were left to fill significant gaps of time with only the people we live with. Others were left to fill gaps of time independently.

Initially, coming up with creative ways to pass the time seemed effortless. There was a plethora of ideas floating around the internet and social media.

Family game nights, home economic classes taught by parents, and yours truly became something to look forward to at the end of the homeschooling day or week. Friends establishing “Zoom happy hour” dates and times was effortless as well. We wanted to interact. We wanted to pass the time. We wanted to rekindle or rebuild relationships that were suffering due to hectic schedules and life.

As time continues to idly pass, filling the gaps of time and attempts of virtual interaction are no longer anticipated and effortless. They are now becoming a loathed chore - you know, the one you put off until it requires attention.

Perhaps you, as I am, are wondering why. Why am I forcing an activity when I truly have absolutely nothing else to do? And, most importantly why is an activity transformed into a chore?

The answer to these question is not a profound result of a scientific study. They aren’t necessarily found in a self-help book; although that might help transform other parts of life. The answer is simple. We are not finding in joy in these activities.

Carl Jung posed a question once, “What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes?” I stumbled across this question in an article from The Guardian.

Reflecting on childhood I know I invested my time in things that brought me joy and could do them each day, effortlessly for hours. My brother did as well.

My favorite activities were playing school, reading and coloring. My brother’s favorite activities were playing with his cars, building with his Legos or Lincoln Logs and learning about animals.

It seems to me that prior to the pandemic, we were all forcing ourselves to participate in activities that never brought joy and our lives turned into a chore, essentially. That is why it happened in the few month span of time we have been at home. We didn’t necessarily slow down we just transferred our busy schedules from outside of the home to inside.

Instead of truly evaluating what brings us joy, or asking ourselves the question Jung posed, we just forged on and replaced our open time frames with other activities to merely fill the time gap.

The situation we are in creates enough animosity, anxiety and stress in itself. Inadvertently adding to that by forcing time filling activities creates a ticking time bomb.

Have you ever asked your self Jung’s question; what did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? If not, ask yourself. Do not expect an answer immediately we have been out of childhood for quite awhile and the activity might not be practical at this stage in life. If answer doesn’t come to you perhaps it’s time to find the answer.

Finding joy brings much more peace and happiness. Happiness is often fleeting.

Not only ask yourself the question, but include your family in the process. Perhaps everyone can discover new things about each other.

Also, there are practical ways to find joy, peace and happiness during this pandemic. They are, of course, the typical recommendations, such as, eating healthy, exercising and limiting screen time, for example.

I’m sure there are many people who roll their eyes at those recommendations. But, there is truth to them and they are, in fact, necessary.

However, I’ve discovered that if you accept the emotion you are feeling in the moment and you allow it to be felt it eventually passes. We all have emotions. Learning to accept them, be accountable for them, process them and move forward is an integral part to overall finding joy and good mental health.

It does not seem as though there is an end in sight for this and it may take longer than we hope for or find necessary.

Keep searching for activities to answer Jung’s question. Keep trying. Hang in there. We may not be in the same boat, but we most certainly are in the same storm.