In our reading for class this week from The Marginalian, Maria Popova writes of Zadie Smith's perspective on writing in covid times. A line on "artificial limits" really struck a chord with me:
Confronted with the problem of life served neat, without distraction or adornment or superstructure, I had almost no idea of what to do with it. Back in the playpen, I carved out meaning by creating artificial deprivations — time, the kind usually provided for people by the real limitations of their real jobs. Things like “a firm place to be at nine a.m. every morning” or a “boss who tells you what to do.” In the absence of these fixed elements, I’d make up hard things to do, or things to abstain from. Artificial limits and so on.
Why do we do anything? What structures and patterns have been engrained in us to the point that we don't think about why we're doing what we're doing?
These questions align with another motif that has been swimming in my head as of late: friction and flow. The pandemic is a perfect example of friction that released an immense flow in every human around the world. It's interesting to compare pandemic experiences with others, and even between people around the world. You'll find such great similarities, but perhaps some major differences as well.
What happens when you're completely free from the limits you've created for yourself?
What happens when you're completely free from the limits the world has created for itself? How do you feel?
Well, now that you're free...
What happens when limits start to come back into play? How do you feel?