Marc Rosenthal for the NYTimes.
Yesterday, I posted in my Instagram stories that I’d read only seven books to completion in 2020 and they were all read before April. Since then, I’ve only read parts of books – half a book here, a few chapters there. Even books I know are good, I find too hard to get through — I can’t focus, I don’t really enjoy the reading. I used to love reading books! A few people sent DMs saying they, too, weren’t able to read books since the pandemic began, including a friend of mine who is a NYTimes bestselling novelist currently editing her newest novel. I feel better knowing it’s not just me, but it’s still a bummer.
Earlier in the day, I read this essay about the challenge one extrovert was feeling in socializing now, saying his skills were rusty. While I was turned off that a couple examples he used were recent dinner parties – um, why are people hosting/ going to dinner parties right now? – I understood the premise of his dilemma and even related to it a little bit. The comment section was full of people saying that they, too, felt rusty in their social skills after many months of near-isolation. This got me thinking: What else are people feeling challenged by that once brought them joy? Besides reading books, here are a few other things I’m struggling to feel motivated to do, let alone enjoy:
baking; patio gardening; even mixing cocktails.
Someone in my Instagram DMs sent me links to a couple articles about how grief affects the ability to focus and enjoy long-form reading. I’m not actively grieving anyone, but I guess there’s an argument to be made that I’m grieving my old life, as I suspect others may be feeling this, too. So much has changed in the past ten months and I think there’s a real possibility a few of the changes will be permanent. I also think I’m probably a little depressed, which seems like a normal response to the kind of collective trauma we’ve all been bearing witness to and experiencing ourselves on a spectrum.
So, I’m curious: Are there any things you’ve found yourself struggling to enjoy or even do that used to be favorite activities? Are there any new activities that have taken their place? (I’ve started coloring in adult coloring books as a way to unwind and going for long walks/ jogs in the park at dawn.) Are there any pandemic-related changes in your life you think might be permanent? Anything you’re actually glad to see go?