How many of us are still locked down even though the government lock downs have been lifted? Has the pandemic changed you and most of the people you personally know or are you/they in a continued mental lock down?
Personally it feels like many I converse with are on the same self-imposed mental lock down they were in previous to the pandemic. Over the past few months I have been more aware of the patterns and behaviors in those around me. I have always been conscious of the trends people gravitate towards but lately I have been examining them more closely.
School pods. Moving to Hamptons during pandemic. Posting BLM and RBG references on Instagram, at the same exact time everyone else does. What makes us need to follow others rhythms rather than creating our own? I am not a sociologist and will have a rather simplistic analysis compared to someone who studies human behaviors would, but I would love to share some of my thoughts and how these realizations have helped me in my personal journey.
When Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed last night, everyone immediately took to Instagram to pay tribute to the iconic Supreme Court Justice. I found myself wondering why this was happening. Why didn't anyone, at least on my feed, ever post wonderful things about her while she was alive? Similarly, everyone took to their social media when the BLM campaign reached new heights. Beforehand, no one I personally follow, ever expressed anything regarding how blacks are mistreated in our society. I never even heard of BLM until then and would argue that many posters didn't either. There are many organizations that raise awareness against inequity, but we all jumped on the same bandwagon and didn't take the time to research other equally important organizations. We just supported the one everyone else did. Do these people truly care about BLM and RBG or do they care more about how they themselves are perceived if they stand apart from the trends around them? Would there ever be trends if people weren't so locked down in the way they think they should behave?How would our communities be if they were comprised of big thinkers with individual minds that are not clouted and locked down by a deep routed need to conform? I would have loved to see posts on my feed over the years commending Ginsburg's important work. Instead there was silence until the silence was broken only after she died and then somehow that triggered a need for everyone to suddenly praise her work at.the.same.exact.time. There is an obvious significance in raising awareness collectively but I wonder why people don't take time to think about important people and movements individually and express their thoughts along the way, not only as part of a movement. I am not sure what all this means, I'm just ranting and pointing it out.
Similarly, with NYC schools going mostly remote, many families decided to create pods for their students. This too is a new trend. Someone started a pod and then everyone wanted one too. People are spending up to $12,000 for their child to be taught by a teacher for four hours a day over twelve weeks with seven other kids who join the pod too. It's like a mini private school designed by the parents. I am trying to understand why these parents, who have financial freedom and flexible work schedules which allow them to work remotely, are all locked in to this pod idea. There is so much they can do and experience with their financial security and ability to work from anywhere but instead, they follow the trend and the patterns and create a pod for their kids and their friends. To be clear, I am speaking specifically of people who can afford to travel, pay for these pricey pods AND can work remotely while paying for a babysitter to assist. I am very aware that most Americans don't have this luxury. I just grapple with why the ones who do, choose the trend over the endless possibilities they have at their disposal.
Voices in numbers are definitely crucial in confronting changes that need to be made. There are plenty of people who speak against racial biases and advocate for equal rights among races and genders on a regular basis. The majority of people who I know though, do not. They only do so when they get the cue, on their Instagram feed, that it is time to do so. I am not discounting the impact of their support or judging their posts with the masses, I am sincerely trying to gain a deeper understanding of how we think and behave.
So why are we locked in? What tethers us to conformity and patterns? How would we all be different if we reflected on our own patterns and their authenticity? What potential do we have waiting to be unlocked if we did not lock ourselves down by others and the ways we think we are expected to behave within social pressures of patterns and trends? Are we even aware of these patterns and expectations in our lives or do we think we are controlling our own choices and decisions of how and when to respond?
I know that while I lived in NYC, pre-Covid, I was locked into a pattern of business. Busy, busy, busy! Everyone around me was busy so I had to be busy too. I was also locked down by materialism adding to my Valentino shoe collection at every opportunity. My shoes and bags are now all locked in my closet in my unoccupied apartment. Things I once believed I needed, I realize I never needed at all. In retrospect, I definitely succumbed to the influences and patterns around me and ran around life in my expensive shoes and just found myself exhausted at the end of the day with achy feet.
I have been so uninspired lately. Oddly enough, I am most inspired by my sundaystrolling Instagram feed where I get lost in the way people live their lives breaking the norms and living their fullest lives through travel. No pod posts. No RBG posts. No BLM posts. Just inspirational posts of people who visit places I have never even heard of effecting my mind to imagine an infinite world waiting to be discovered. There are no rules - from luxury hotels to tents in the desert, from a trip to Philadelphia to a stay in Indonesia, its a bunch of people who are doing what they want, when they want, in a way they can afford and making it work without any sense of competition or judgement in where or how they travel. I am sure there are many, many groups like this on social media; ones that push the envelope and break the trends outside of travel but in a way that matters to them. Individually they inspire a common thread. They are not though affected by imposed collective patterns.
How are we living our best lives if we are really living out a scripted one? What could we really achieve individually and collectively if we followed our own rhythms? If we weren't chained to the ideas of how we should live, how would we really live? Could we randomly post an anti-bias message when no one else is? Could we take Disney up on its teacher led classrooms at their resorts? Could we move to Costa Rica and live in the jungle while our kids learn remotely with the help of a Spanish speaking sitter and maybe learn a new language? Is it possible to live our most authentic lives without caring at all how others judge our comments, movements, decisions...etc.? I don't know about you, but I am certainly going to try to move forward, in my own life, with a microscopic lens inspecting each decision I make and why it is made. Moving forward I hope to be as genuine as possible and truly dig deep into why and how I make my choices and to be aware of the choices I think I make versus the ones that are actually made for me by external influences. For now, I will try to march to the beat of my own drum and see how that feels for a while. Who knows, I might just end up missing the band or maybe I'll learn that a solo gig isn't too shabby.