On brushing blankets and the value of anti-productivity in the new normal
Do people still brush blankets?
I can’t imagine who would make the time. I would never have. It’s so much easier to donate the scraggly one and replace it with a newer, fluffier version.
Yet, here I am, brushing a blanket. It’s an old blanket and I mean reeaally old. What lead me to brushing it, is new though. Long-covid. You’ve heard of it, I’m sure. When my partner and I had our, no aptly contextualised ‘brush’ with covid, it was thankfully very mild across the board. I felt like my old self again within about 12 days.
Except within my old self, there was this new self now sharing space with her. It’s like covid woke her up, or brought her back from somewhere, or perhaps even reminded old me that I had forgotten how to feel this even older me. I’m talking ancient older. So old, she used to brush blankets. Old blankets.
If you haven’t heard of long-covid and this is reading like a strange passage peppered with adjectives on replay, let me fill in the picture.
Old me, pre covid had heaps of energy. So much energy in fact that the she found herself having very little time to finish anything because she was always so busy starting new things, bursting them into life.
Post covid me is now experiencing the strange lingering fatigue that everyone talks about. The extreme exhaustion you wake up with after 8 lovely long hours of shut eye. I find it unfathomably difficult to coerce myself into powering through things I find ‘energetically boring’. Like a project you’re kind of over. It’s like my mind says “ugh, I’m so tired of this” and then long-covid body says “okay, let’s be physically tired to,” and she just happily mirrors my fatigued mental state. Which, as you can imagine, is quite unsetttling, coming from the same world I did where hustling our minds over our bodies was our primary mode.
It’s as though I’ve lost my ability to con myself into the daily grind. In its place, there’s now a Nope switch. Mind, heart body and spirit now communicate on the same phone line, the listen to each other’s conversations and interrupt each other constantly. But worse than that, at the end of the day, they all take the same side, and the chick who thought she was running the show is left standing there like a numpty with a confused ego and no option but to surrender to their new aligned M.O. ‘We do how we feel. We think how we do. We feel how we are.’
And so today, that looked like dragging myself bleary eyed through the day’s content creation deadline with every action a struggle.
But just then when I thought I would crash on the couch and allow myself to be exhausted, a victim of long covid fatigue, I was overcome by the desire to brush this newly washed old blanket. To refluff it while listening to the garden settle in to stillness. No series or podcast on in the background. Just the brush and the blanket and the sounds of the doves jostling together for a spot on the branch.
And then it occurred to me, that maybe covid had brought old me an ancient gift.
By taking away my inexhaustible energy and replacing it with a deeper alignment, I can now not help but listen to my body and more over, listen my spirit. Not only listen, but heed her ask.
Brushing a blanket is of course just a means to an end. It’s a trigger task, an invitation from the moment, meant to make space for a softer, gentler listening. Meant to make time for being in ways we’ve forgotten to be long, long before covid.
It’s not only the doing of tasks that align with our preconceived goals that ca be defined as ‘being productive’. It’s also the tasks that call us to come sit with our inner choir of body and spirit, finally, in a moment of non-doing, able to show us, what must come next.