Tag Archives: shelter in place

Staying Home Update #4

June 30, 2020

Culture and Society

The beginning of my sheltering in place back in March seems like so long ago. As we now reach the end of June, I harbor as much anxiety and consternation as I have before. Throughout the US as of this posting, the number of positive test results for Covid-19 keeps increasing, as well as the number of deaths. We have initiated what I believe to be a premature re-opening of the country. Where I live in a rural area of the southern state of Tennessee, most people behave as if all is normal again and do not wear masks in public. This mindset is one that I do not share.

I have been sheltering at home as much as possible. As such, I have barely seen any friends and have only visited my family briefly on a couple of occasions using masks and distancing measures. Thankfully, I love my home, and there has been no shortage of activities to fill up my time.

The lion’s share of my days have been taken up by filming. As I noted in my previous post, I have set a goal of creating 100 short films and releasing them consecutively each week every Friday. This has been an exhausting and daunting task, but its benefits have far outweighed its pitfalls. For starters, I have learned so much more about the workflow between the production and editing processes—including effective filming techniques and valuable shortcuts. From a creative standpoint, I have also become more willing to take risks and put myself out there in ways I never would have imagined for myself even a couple of years ago.

One case in point is the song (and its music video) that I released last Friday called “Cat Daddy”. On display is a goofy and fun-loving side of myself that I have largely hidden from the world. Thankfully, the sky did not fall, and the world did not end (present global circumstances notwithstanding). The creativity demanded by this filmmaking has encouraged me to be less risk-averse. This broadened template will inform all of my other projects moving forward.

Incidentally, if you have not seen “Cat Daddy” yet, here it is in all of its feline magnificence:

Outside of filming, I have, predictably, been reading a lot of books. This year, in fact, I have already far outpaced my usual quota of books by the midyear. As of this morning, I have read 22 books. In a typical year, I would have read close to six by the same point in time. This amounts to almost four times the quantity that I have read in the past. Obviously, 2020 has not been a normal year by any stretch of a reasonable imagination. Sheltering at home has certainly been conducive, but to be honest, I set a goal to read least 40 books by the end of the year back in January. This has all occurred by design.

Additionally, it is important to share what it is that I am not doing. I have resisted all temptations to watch Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime despite having easy access and subscriptions to all three. Even though this is antithetical to my vocation as a filmmaker, I would rather be a creator than a consumer at this point. The latter is far too passive an existence for me. Of course, I will watch something occasionally, but I do so after thoroughly vetting the choice I have made and imposing limits on the time I devote to it.

Both of my dominant pursuits—filming and reading books—allow me to engage and inspire my imagination in ways that are active, thoughtful, and meaningful. The problem-solving that is inherent in filmmaking and the deliberate reflection that accompanies reading a good book enrich every aspect of my creative life.

Lastly, I play music and sing every. day. These days, I switch between playing the ukulele and the piano. In both disciplines, I sing a lot. This gives me immense satisfaction and feeds my creativity in ways that I cannot even begin to explain.

With this pandemic encroaching upon every facet of modern society, I shelter in my home and take life one day at a time. I stay fearful of contracting the virus myself and spreading it. I am also angered by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, and I wish this virus did not exist to temper the protests in their honor.

I live each moment deliberately and hopefully. I care for myself and create my art. That is all I know to do at the moment. Despite my looming apprehensions about the world at large, this will have to be enough.

Here are a couple of my previous posts to read:

Staying Home Update #3

April 13, 2020

Culture and Society

Lately as I shelter in my home, I often feel a push and pull between two forces in my head. One force wants me to be productive and take action on the house projects and creative pursuits that are all waiting for my undivided attention. Another, softer tug wants me to take meandering forays into the deep recesses of my reflections, to be present in stillness and sit with the trauma that is implicit in the act of fearfully hiding from a phantom pandemic.

Honestly, the best I can do at the moment is a little of both. I make small but measurable gains toward my goals and have moments when I simply stop everything, eventually falling asleep or getting lost in a moody reverie.

It’s fair to say that there are no right or wrong actions to take. Some decisions may be better or more appropriate than others, but nonetheless, it’s more important to move with intention and awareness.

If you feel tired, then rest. If you don’t feel like doing anything at the moment, then don’t. If you feel like working on a project just to feel some sense of normalcy, then do that. I’ve been learning to cut myself some slack if something doesn’t get finished or if my day is derailed by some kind of nuisance.

Lucky for me, I love to take naps. This happens at least once a day. I have a beautiful deck that overlooks the wild wilderness that surrounds my rural country home. I’ve been enjoying the deck more now that the weather has warmed up. I take naps on a lounge chair out there as much as I can. I’ve also been playing my ukulele lately, and it’s been a quirky little salve to my stressed spirit. I’m continually amazed at how versatile an instrument it is because it feels more like a toy. I am working on some original songs and a few covers, as well as some finger-picked melodies.

Photography is another charming pursuit of mine. It forces me to find perspective and beauty among the seemingly mundane of everyday life. The blooms in our garden are impossibly and delightfully photogenic. Taking photos of them makes me happy.

On the other end of this spectrum are my various projects. I mentioned previously that I am pressure washing our massive wraparound deck. This is ongoing. I am also working on a couple of screenplays and editing a big film project. I enjoy this work, but the learning curve to achieve the results I want is steep. So, I’ve been progressing slowly in hopes that in time I will get it right. I am also reorganizing and redecorating my office and creative workspace. This includes rummaging through an interior storage space to make more room. Again, I am taking my time with this.

Lastly, there are two activities that keep me grounded in my life. One of those is playing the piano, and the other is reading books. I play my piano and two electric keyboards as often as I can. The sounds they make and the way the notes coalesce as I sing feed and nourish me. Reading a book is a quiet, noiseless, but altogether engrossing activity. I can visit other countries and universes and leap into fantastic adventures in the warm coziness of my reading nook. Both the simplicity and the enormity of it keep me engaged and enthralled.

I say all this knowing that the specter of the coronavirus pandemic lingers heavily in my mind. Its devastation saddens me. The irony that I do my part by practically doing nothing feels disempowering, but that is the paradox in these times that we face. I have made a donation to an organization that provides support and equipment for nurses, but it does not feel like enough.

What are you engaging in at the moment? How are you spending these sheltering days?

I feel the need more than ever to be intentional with how I spend my time, even when this means doing nothing. The reality of a pandemic is the gravity of our delicate mortality. I don’t want to waste another day should this virus find its way to me.

My life and all of our lives are far too precious.

-Roqué


Here are a couple of previous posts! Stay a while and enjoy!

Staying Home Update #2

March 30, 2020

Culture and Society

The days lumber on as I shelter in place. Most of the time, I fight the urge to check the news. This involves a swift and anxious perusal of several news websites including CNN, NPR, The Guardian, USA Today, and a Nashvile TV news station. I am getting a better handle on this obsession. Nonetheless, I harbor a deep concern for the wellbeing of the world. The coronavirus pandemic is on its way to being a catastrophic world event with aftershocks that we will experience for an unforeseeable future. I fear for the vulnerable populations all over the world and for the poor countries (such as those in Africa) that do not have the resources and infrastructure that the developed world has. If wealthy countries like Italy, Spain, and the US cannot even contain the spread of the virus and its devastating mortality rate, then how much harder will it be for the poverty-stricken of the world? I can’t even.

This is all overwhelming, and I am simply trying to stay calm.

To that end, there are some daily practices I have cobbled together and try to do as consistently as I can. I maintain a list of friends and family members with whom I check in whenever I can without becoming a nuisance about it. This involves messaging on social media, texting, email, Zoom chats, and phone calls. At a time in which we need to be physically distant from one another, I see this moment in history as an opportunity to support and comfort each other as much as possible.

Another daily activity I have is walking. Being out in the country, I am fortunate to have a private driveway that is half of a mile long from our doorstep to our mailbox. It runs right along our creek and makes for a truly idyllic and calming stroll surrounded by thousands of trees and abundant nature. Our wifi does not extend beyond the house, and I do not get a cell phone signal on our property at all. This means that I am completely cut off from the world when I take these walks., and this is quite refreshing. There are no news websites to obsess over and no people to avoid. I get to be alone with my thoughts and with the natural world, as well as get the easy and low-impact kind of exercise that I generally prefer.

Here are some photos I took a couple of days ago along my way.

Our creek runs right along the driveway.
This is a peaceful and picturesque path.

For about an hour or two if it is not raining (and it rains A LOT in my neck of the woods), I have been working on what has been a lengthy home-maintenance project. I am pressure washing our deck . This has been time-consuming for a couple of reasons. Our house is over 20 years old, and I do not know if the deck has ever been pressure washed before. The layers of mold and normal wear have taken their toll. I have to go over many sections several times just to get a lot of it off. The other reason why this is taking a while is that the deck wraps around the house. It’s A LOT of deck. So, I do a little at a time on most days, and I should be done in about month at my current glacial pace. The before and after photos are quite shocking. Our deck post-wash looks almost brand new! I love it!! This process has been surprisingly rewarding.

In this photo, the darker section is the “before.” Seriously, what a difference huh?

Grime and mold disappearing after a thorough pressure wash.

Like I mentioned last time, I am also doing a lot of reading, knitting, and music playing on my piano and ukulele (less so on cello lately, but that will change soon).

I do all of this in the interest of trying to live calmly as we all weather the growing storm of this virus.

I hope you find meaningful or at least enjoyable activities to fill your days as we try to stay healthy and less stressed out.

Be safe and be kind to yourselves. (Also, wash your hands when you get a chance.)

There will be more updates to come.

-Roqué