I’m lying on the couch, wearing sweatpants, listening to my son play Xbox over the internet with his friends.
“I got you, bro.”
“I’m like a god, yo.”
“Dude, these tryhards are so sweaty.” I honestly have no idea what that means.
When you’re 9 and you’re quarantined and you sleep indoors and your parents feed you, and remind you to shower, and wash your clothes for you–quarantine is not terrible. The other day I asked my son if he was okay–not going to school, seeing his friends, and playing sports.
“As long as the internet doesn’t get the coronavirus I’m okay.”
“What if the internet gets coronavirus?”
My son’s back stiffened. His knees little locked.
“Don’t even joke, bro.”
If you’re reading this you’re probably not 9. You’re probably an adult, or like me, at least pretending to be. Either way, the uncertainty of the moment has inspired a lot of my recent thoughts to begin with what if… .
What if quarantine stretches into the summer?
What if my vacation in Mexico gets canceled?
What if school doesn’t return in September?
What if we run out of toilet paper?
What if my shopping cart has coronavirus living on the handle?
If you’re like me, what if… typically precedes a negative scenario. Like…
What if I lose my job?
What if I get cornonavirus?
But what if today, you and I, made a list of what ifs… that precede a positive?
What if I went for a walk?
What if I started writing that story?
What if I donated to a relief fund?
What if I wrote a thank-you note to someone special?
Quarantine–in financial and social and poetic terms–sucks, but what if we changed our quarantine language?
Psychologist, Dr. Susan Jeffers, called this re-direction of language– diffusion. By doing this we, very simply, see the glass as half full as opposed to half empty.
The what if... + a positive scenario, according to Jeffers, does two things:
- provide energy
- reframe the situation
Look, no doubt it’s easy to feel tired and uninspired as we shuffle into, what feels like week 75 of quarantine.
I feel it. There are moments when I’ve slipped on my trusty sweatpants and got busy existing on the couch. But in the end, like most of my college years, I don’t feel great about my choices. My stretches of wasting away in suburbanville only drains my energy– it doesn’t restore it.
And as for reframing, yes quarantine sucks but what if we saw this time as a valuable– time to start a project, or connect with your family, or unclog the sink drain you’ve been ignoring since Thanksgiving.
The point is– if we’re mindful of our sentence construction, What if … doesn’t have to foreshadow verbs of doom and prepositions of gloom.
What if I rolled off the couch, grabbed my laptop, found a quite corner of the house, and wrote a post about what if... .
Because, if I sit here any longer, listening to my son play Xbox, destroying the English language, I may have to go lick a shopping cart handle, bro.
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