To my friends, I have always been the manic one: always with the excessive amounts of energy, the short attention span, the constant need to look for the next big thing. Patience was never inherently my virtue. Whether it be my feet or my mind, some part of me was always elsewhere.
Until, of course, the pandemic happened.
From someone who was constantly in and out of buses and planes and boats, I suddenly had to stay at home until who knows when. And while this was, no doubt, a privilege I’m endlessly thankful for, the transition was not easy for me at all.
As of today, however, I can safely say that I’m okay. In fact, I’m better than my pre-pandemic self. And while I still want the global crisis to end (who doesn’t?!), I’m finally grasping what is within my reach — a few quarantine activities that have been bringing me joy and teaching me lessons in stillness.
Quarantine activities that have stretched my patience
Pre-pandemic, yoga for me was nothing more than a fitness ritual. Hence, I never really had the patience for yoga sequences that required minutes of staying in place. But now, I can finally appreciate the shavasana. While laying down, I whisper prayers and slowly process whatever is on my mind.
In a way, yoga has helped me become more patient with myself. For one, I’ve become patient with my body and the time it took to learn and master certain poses. For another, I’ve become patient with my body for the days that it doesn’t want to move and stretch and hold.
Finally, I’ve gracefully accepted my body for what it is more than for what it could do. And so when there come periods that it feels sore and icky and won’t flow the way I want it to, I can love it just the same.
Okay, I have to admit: My baking career didn’t really fly as much as the next person’s. I never learned how to bake Spanish bread. I never even learned how to bake ube pandesal! During the quarantine, the closest thing to a pastry I created was siopao dough. And even that taught me patience.
Working with yeast, a fascinating living organism, was fun the first time around. I even time-lapsed the whole rising of the dough process! But soon enough, after I devoured the siopao in a matter of seconds, I realised that baking was not for me. Still, now, I can savour croissants and bagels and mamon with more purpose than I ever had before.
It’s magical what baking can do to a foodie. I’ve always been tagged as “masarap kumain,” but only now do I actually appreciate the experience of eating mindfully. Since the whole yeast encounter, I’ve stopped rushing to finish my meals and started chewing with purpose. Sounds cheesy, but it’s true.
After my fiasco with the yeast, I ironically got myself a kombucha scoby. Instead of merely enjoying juice I could make in seconds, I decided to torture myself with a drink that required at least a couple of weeks of brewing! Because of the time it takes to make, I drink kombucha with caution — just one glass per day. But also, with the wait, I’ve come to appreciate the drink all the more.
Brewing kombucha has certainly reminded me that strengthening takes time. In this case, literally. Whenever I want a stronger brew, I’d leave my kombucha to brew a few days longer than usual. It sort of reminds me of… myself in a pandemic. Come to think of it, I may have grown stronger, too.
Tending to plants
Like many young adults, I, too, fell in love with plants during the pandemic. I never would’ve expected this, as I considered myself a black thumb before. But when I saw a baby leaf pop out of my first adopted plant, I was ecstatic and bought more!
My first few plants were varieties of the fast-growing pothos; so, I was pleasantly surprised with how frequent they shot out new leaves. But somewhere in my plantita journey, I decided I wanted to propagate a ZZ leaf. It would be an understatement to say that my patience was definitely challenged. But, the wait was definitely worth it.
So much has changed since I bought my first plant. I’m no longer the helicopter plant mom I was last year: I can now let my babies be. I can now leave them alone to breathe in between waterings. But whenever my assigned gardening day arrives, I still look at them with awe. They grow (up) so fast and I’m cherishing every moment I have with them!
Reading big books
When I was a teenager, my nose was always buried in a book. I especially adored big books, because I loved myself a long narrative. Back then, I could finish 500 pages in one sitting — I’d stay up all night if I had to. I even had the guts to read trilogies and other sagas!
Since I started working, however, reading has become a habit I had to carve into my schedule. In other words, it’s been years since I had the liberty to finish big books in one sitting. And so, before the quarantine, I found myself easily overwhelmed with the thickness of a book. With this, I settled with shorter and simpler reads — some of them I didn’t even enjoy.
When I was forced to take things slow again, I found the courage to pick up a big book I’ve always wanted to read. I accepted that it could take me weeks before I could finish it, but I’ve learned to read at least a chapter a day and be okay with it.
While I can’t deny that I still often feel frustrated because of this pandemic, I have learned to take things one day at a time. These quarantine activities have taught me to find joy in the in-betweens; and while we’re all hoping and praying for a better tomorrow, there’s no harm in actually trying to enjoy the wait.