Languishing in Lockdown

Magnolia Tree

Living life in lockdown seems to have become the norm as there is no talk of when it might end. Our Covid numbers are decreasing slowly and the government has initiated faster vaccinations in highly affected areas but given that our hospitals are at capacity, nothing will change until the numbers decrease significantly.

My days have a similarity to them as there is nothing to mark my week like going somewhere at the weekend or meeting friends for coffee or dinner. I can’t say that I’m bored as I have enough to keep me busy. I’m particularly enjoying my walks at the moment as the spring flowers are in bloom and the trees are bursting into leaf. However, I can’t say that there is much excitement to my days either! Adam Grant, an organational psychologist, wrote an article in the New York Times recently in which he describes what a lot of people are likely feeling in these times, not hopeless or depressed but a bit joyless and aimless, a sense of stagnation. He describes it as “muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield”. Apparently this state of being is referred to as ‘languishing’ which is the opposite of ‘flourishing’!

His antidote to it is to find something that provides a meaningful challenge that absorbs you so let me tell you about my latest challenge to myself. I have been trying to improve my Italian by taking an online course ‘Italiano Per la Vita’ run by Italiano Automatico ( so called because the founder, Alberto Arrighini, believes that a language can be learned naturally by listening and absorbing rather than by studying grammar. I’m not sure about that but it’s an interesting course as we have videos, audio files, zoom lessons and also a ‘salotto’ where we can go and chat to other students. The majority of students are fairly good or at least the ones who come to the salotto are and we have entertaining conversations. Anyway, one of our course exercises is to activate our speech. We are given a short paragraph to practise and say out loud to the group by way of an audio recording or video. There are people in our group from all over the world and many, who are not at all camera shy like myself, take the opportunity to say and show something about their city or have no problem at all doing selfies of their presentation. My challenge was to do the same but doing a selfie would be a nightmare for me even speaking English so I made a video of some street art that I like. I downloaded a video editing App onto my phone and did a voiceover describing the art and including my exercise. It was a success as it turns out that many people like this type of art. I have attached a shortened version here with the audio removed so now all you hear is the noise of traffic. It was fun, though time consuming, learning to edit a video and do voiceovers but there’s not much to do so I look forward to doing some more. This should keep me from languishing too much for now!

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