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Languishing or Shadowboxing? What Have You Learned from the Pandemic?

What It's All About Blog

By Tony Forder

Covid's still here causing some anguish

And all I can do is continue to languish

What to do, what to do?

Sometimes a light shines through

Think I'll just make me a vegemite sandwich

OK, I admit it. It's all my fault. The Pandemic, that is. See late in 2019 I was talking to my brother Nige on the phone and telling him, "Wow, I've been traveling so much, I sometimes think wouldn't it be nice to just stay in one place for a while." Careful what you wish for!

For the past two years, like most of us I've been languishing mostly in the same place. I was lucky enough to squeeze in a trip to Ireland, the Emerald Isle in Feb. 2020, no doubt when the virus was already hitching human rides across the planet. It was a whirlwind tour of breweries to recruit for the Mondial de la Biere Festival in Montreal for whom I consult. West Kerry Brewing Co. was one charming, out of the way brewery we visited on the Dingle Peninsular. Its proprietor had just returned from traveling in Asia. She was a bit under the weather, but "No, I don't have Corona virus," she told us. I never knew if that turned out to be true or not. Within a few days I was back in New Jersey.

At that point all we knew about Corona virus was from social media cartoons of viruses and Corona beer. At the end of February, I made what was to be my last trip into New York City for 20 months, Brooklyn to be precise, for the NYC Beer Week opening festival, which in retrospect may well have been a super spreader event. People were already bumping elbows instead of shaking hands, but masks were not in abundance, neither was social distancing.

A couple of weeks later, I was due to take a flight to San Diego and join friends for an annual reunion in Baja California. The virus, now known as Covid-19, had taken over the airwaves and panic was in the air. I held on as long as I could but when both San Diego and New York City shut down, I cancelled my flight the day before I was supposed to fly, March 14. In retrospect, being marooned in Mexico in a bohemian trailer park next to the booming Pacific surf may have been a more appealing alternative to being locked down in congested northern New Jersey.

Anxious weekly expeditions for groceries, full wash down of purchased items, but great home-cooked meals, and evenings of Scrabble with our family of three – one of our daughters, in between apartments, was stranded with us; and endless Netflix series and drinks of course. Walks in the park to begin with until the park was shut down, limiting us to sidewalk strolls in the neighborhood.

After a month or so, I went to Option B – a different trailer than the one in Baja. This one I had purchased a few years ago and parked on my friend's farm in Warwick, NY. The farm hosts a disc golf course, but the course was shut down. We could play, the farm residents, but only solo. It wasn't much fun. The skies were empty, no planes – it was eerie. The birdlife was having a ball though.

I can't say I really languished. The farm, The Oasis as it is named, was a beautiful place to shelter in place. As things eased up, I helped around the farm (we have a hop field); developed a website thanks to my friend and mentor Jeannine Marois who used as a guinea pig to hone her new skills as a website designer; and pursued a new avenue in fermentation – making mead (honey wine). And ain't that What It's All About?

In 2021, as we went through various stages of opening up and locking down with the visitation of varying variants, the Covid cloud still hovered over us. I began to languish. Actually I didn't really know the meaning of the word. I thought languishing was kicking back – you know like floating in the pool with a beer koozie, maybe munching on langostinos.

I discovered it is a word that describes pretty well the mode or mood the pandemic has put us in. It means we're stuck, like being becalmed in a sailing boat, unable to move, no energy, out of the flow – "the void between depression and flourishing – the absence of well-being," is how Adam Grant described it in a NY Times on-line article.

I think different people are suffering different levels of languishing as the pandemic drags on, restricting our lives in so many ways. I had a fairly light case I would say and have recently been able to get back in the flow to a certain extent – shadow boxing the Pandemic, wandering the land.

A trip to the Finger Lakes, a jaunt up to Vermont and Adirondacks, and an ambitious, but successful trip to work the Mondial de la Biere fest in Rio de Janeiro, luckily before Omicron reared its contagious head there.

At this point in time the news is that Omicron is on the decline, but what's next – another variant, or are we nearing the fabled herd immunity? And what have we learned over the last couple of years. Here's me:

1. Yes, family is important. But so are social networks (not social media!!) – interacting with friends. Thank you disc golf, thank you beer. And even if it's only virtual, it's something.

2. It's easier to get off the grid than to get back on.

3. Where we were together Covid brought us closer. Where we were divided it pushed us further apart.

4. Affirmed a lot of things I already knew: being outside is good for the soul, walking is good for the body; it's better to listen than talk; beer is essential.

5. At times people seem to be more concerned about their assholes than their stomachs.

Finally, if you feel you are still languishing, the aforementioned Mr. Adams has these words for us. “By acknowledging that so many of us are languishing, we can start giving voice to quiet despair and lighting a path out of the void.”

And ain't that What It's All About?


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