I saw About A Boy in theaters when I was fourteen. (That’s nearly two decades ago, YIKES DOT COM.) Despite the fact that eighteen years have elapsed, it’s still one of my favorite movies. And I realized last week that it (sort of) prepared me to survive life in quarantine alone.
I say “(sort of)” because, if you’ve watched it, you’ll know full well that the moral of the story is that NO MAN IS AN ISLAND. (And also STOP BEING A DOUCHE, SIR.) But let’s forget about that bit and focus on the valuable lessons we learn in the beginning, when Will (Hugh Grant) is living his best, lazy, emotionally unavailable life and says:
“In my opinion, all men are islands. And what’s more, now’s the time to be one. This is an island age. A hundred years ago, for instance, you had to depend on other people – no one had TV or CDs or DVDs or videos or home espresso makers. As a matter of fact, they didn’t have anything cool. Whereas now, you see, you can make yourself a little island paradise. With the right supplies, and more importantly, the right attitude, you can be sun-drenched. Tropical. A magnet for young Swedish tourists.”
(That last part might seem irrelevant, but if you have been on Tinder lately, with its worldwide swipers via the Passport function, you will know that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Also, lol @ “CDs” and “DVDs”.)
But seriously, if there were ever a time to be trapped indoors, it’s kind of right now? Don’t get me wrong, I’d much prefer to be interacting with real, live humans at a bar or a show or…jesus, ANYWHERE, really. However, the past forty days (YES, IT HAS BEEN FORTY DAYS FOR YA GURL) have weirdly flown by thanks to, wait for it – units of time. According to Will:
“The important thing in island living is to be your own activities director. And I find the key is to think of the day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little intimidating, and most activities take about half an hour. Taking a bath – one unit. Watching Countdown – one unit. Web-based research – two units. Exercising – three units. Having my hair carefully disheveled – four units. It’s amazing how the day fills up, and I often wonder, to be absolutely honest, if I’d ever really have time for a job. How do people cram them in?”
Now, some of you are working from home, so technically you ARE still cramming those in. And possibly parenting on top of it. So maybe you’re less concerned about how to make the days seem less agonizingly long, and/or you’ve embraced your status as a non-island due to the presence of other humans in your quarantine pod. BUT, for those of you who live by yourselves and/or are going absolutely bananas now that you’re suddenly inundated with free time and have seemingly nothing to do with it, UNITS OF TIME ARE GOLD.
My units of time look sort of like this:
YouTube – two units. Dancing aggressively to live and pre-recorded DJ sets – four to six units. Cooking – three units. Lifting weights aka a bunch of cans I threw in a tote bag – half a unit. Reading about spacetime and quantum mechanics – two units. Watching Jeopardy – one unit. Netflix – four units. Beer (high ABV IPA) – two to four units, but only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Right there, that’s at least eight hours DONE. And I am genuinely starting to wonder how I had time to do much of anything else in my pre-quarantine life. Of course I’m looking forward to the eventual day when being physically social is no longer dangerous, but for now, units of time are making all of this borderline shockingly bearable. So if you’ve been having a tough go of all this mess, do like Will does in all of his pre-enlightenment glory and be your own activities director. (Because this is a pandemic, and John Donne can get fucked.)
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