What They Mean When They Talk About Stillness

Brooke Siem
Change Your Mind Change Your Life
5 min readMay 15, 2020

They tell me that the answer to uncertain times is found in stillness. That all I am and all I need is in there, humming. A motor run on calm. And so I sit. And wait. I breathe and chant and wait and sit. And wait. And wait.

Where are the answers?

It’s been months of stillness in Vancouver. On March 14, I led a workshop before joining a few friends for a drink in a sparse, still-open bar. Toilet paper supplies were just dwindling. Only a handful of businesses voluntarily shut down. Notices taped onto closed front doors shone bright white in the spring sunlight. Until April 1st, they said. See you in two weeks.

The notices are fading now, sunbleached and brittle. Plants sit parched and begging behind shuttered windowpanes and every time I walk by them, I want to put my fist through the window out of rage frustration boredom and grab them by their stems and take them home and feed them and nurse them and love them back to life. I want to snip their brown stalks and soak their dusty soil and wait and hope and wonder if they will sprout again, if they will renew. I want to wonder if I have done enough to save them.

I want anticipation. I want that moment when a baby green bud appears on a thirsty twig. I want to look forward to it, to covet it, to feel the burst of joy followed by the satisfaction of relief. Because anticipation brings aliveness. And in world dictated by COVID-19, there is no anticipation. Those of us who are lucky enough not to be fighting the virus are confined to a life in which there is nothing on the horizon, nothing to plan, and not an ounce of FOMO to be found. One day begets the next begets the next begets the next.

Stillness all around.

It’s been long enough now that I’ve baked what I’ve wanted to bake. I’ve crafted what I wanted to craft. I’ve been tipsy out of principle. And spite. I’ve watched Tiger King and Too Hot To Handle, played video games and board games. I picked a fight with my partner over taking the garbage out and then screamed into a pillow. I’ve walked. I’ve cried. I’ve called friends once, twice. By the third time, we’re out of things to say. “What’s new?” doesn’t do much to spark conversation these days.