Efficacy is defined most simply as “the ability to produce a desired or intended result.”  When this home quarantine began over a month ago, I assumed I wanted the same results I have  always  expected of myself—to use my time to produce something useful, concrete, and hopefully of some lasting value.  I take it as a given that my best way to thank this beautiful world that has blessed me so greatly is to continue earning my keep.

I even wrote about it in an earlier post, announcing how I would productively use my time. I realize now that was a display of unwarranted  over-confidence. I still have on my fridge  a list of the commitments I made about how I would spend at least one hour every day: Creativity, Reaching Out, Exercise, Life Maintenance, and Recreation. These quickly became more guidelines than hard-and-fast rules, though I still find a day that includes all of them feels better than one that doesn’t.

Today I saw online a much better list, reflecting how life really feels right now.  Here it is.


I’m not sure I am motivated enough to do all of these, and really, it should morph into my personal list anyway. What is of value here is the reflection of how far I have come from the person I was before all this.  Not one thing on this list is geared to producing anything with a future.  I’m not building anything. I’m not projecting anything concrete. It’s about silencing the lifelong internal narrative and allowing myself to just be, allowing myself to think only of the kinds of activities that make today, and maybe the next few days, a little more serene. Let anything long-term go for now.

A few days ago, I moved my rather worn but comfortable desk chair outside to take in a beautiful sunny afternoon. When I went in, I decided to just leave it there. After all,  I  wasn’t really using the desk for much of anything except a bigger computer screen from time to time  It wasn’t  like I was developing lectures for a cruise any time soon, or doing any writing or research.  And that is how things happily will remain, with a super-comfortable place to relax outside and an underused dining room chair at the desk, just in case I get the urge to….well, I don’t know what.

I didn’t put any significance on this little logistical change until today, when I realized how well it symbolizes the change in outlook this pandemic is facilitating.  The desk chair on the balcony is an encapsulation of the spirit of this new list.  Forget the desk.  Enjoy the sun.  Say yes.