By: John Woodend, Reception Desk Director
When I was around eight or nine years old, my mother grounded me. I was very rarely punished and was often considered a “Good Kid”, by the various wardens incorporated in my life. Now, I don’t remember what I did to get grounded, but I do clearly remember the feeling that I did not deserve to be grounded. It was summer, it was the 80s, and that punishment meant that I could not go out, see and play with my friends, or ride my bike. I was not happy. Justice was not being served. And I didn’t quite know or understand how to handle the situation I was now in. So, I accepted my sentence and quietly went into the tv room. I turned on the TV to determine which one of THE FIVE CHANNELS WE HAD TO CHOOSE FROM . . .TO WATCH!!!
I hardly had a chance to sit down on the couch, when my mother came into the doorway. Still annoyed with me, she asked me what I was doing and in the same breath told me that I was grounded and that I couldn’t watch TV. Still unsure of how I felt about things, I said okay and I turned off the TV. My mother then exited and I sat for a couple of minutes on the couch in silence. I then decided I would go into the playroom that housed many toys, games and books that I had outgrown. I figured I would organize and clean up the things I didn’t want anymore. Very shortly after my task had begun, my mother appeared yet again in the doorway, more annoyed than before, and told me I wasn’t allowed to play with anything. That was the point where I experienced my first Shawshank moment. My mom watched me put my toys away. I asked if it was okay if I just stayed in the room. She said yes and left. I then started to do push-ups and sit ups. She came back to the doorway because she heard noises. Now, exasperated she said, “No exercising!” I asked, “I can’t exercise?” She said, “No, you just be in here and do nothing” (this was before “time out” was a thing). She then walked off. So, I laid down on the hardwood floor and closed my eyes and began my first impromptu meditation. Maybe ten minutes later my mother returned to the doorway. She probably came back because of the silence, but in my mind, she came back because she felt my unbridled, righteous indignation that I was pumping into the ether. She asked me, “Are you sleeping?” Keeping my eye’s closed, I responded, “No”. She then asked, “What are you doing?” I responded with zero remorse, “Thinking about what to do next.”
We are now in the second month of quarantine. And it is not a coincidence that I remembered this story from childhood. This feels like I’m being grounded! I can’t go out and see my friends! And I didn’t do anything to deserve it! And neither did anyone else. However, what I can do is, decide to do something.
If you are feeling stuck. Do not focus on what you cannot do. Focus on what you still can do. For many of us, this quarantine has gifted us with time. Don’t squander this gift. When we come out of this, what story will you have to tell? (You owe it to yourself to do more than watching Tiger King). What do you want to do or start doing with this gift of time? If you don’t know what you want to do, first, start by unplugging from all of your devices. All of them. Next, lie down in a quiet place, relax and ask yourself, what do you want? Stay in the calm and quiet. Then ask, what can I do today? Then, when you are ready, decide to do something that will contribute to your story.
If you are wondering what happened next in my grounding story, my mother, right there, lifted the grounding and let me go out and play. And to the best of my recollection I was never grounded again. Thus, becoming ungroundable.