Opinion | A Year of ‘Languishing’ and ‘Fallow Space’

To the Editor:

Re “Those Blah Feelings Have a Common Name” (Science Times, April 27):

I agree with Adam Grant’s conclusions and find that languishing definitely describes the lack of interest I feel just now and have been feeling for some time during this pandemic. I know I have so much to be thankful for, and I’ve lots of jobs to be getting on with, not least writing projects, but somehow I get caught up in the least demanding areas.

I’ve been asking myself, Why is that? Being in that state of scrolling distractedly was how I came to be reading this article. It seems that I can’t keep focused on anything for more than a few minutes. And while I’m not depressed, I’m also not joyful.

For someone who is normally able to find the joy in the smallest details of daily life, not least because of the hope that my faith gives me, I find the total lack rather disturbing. I want desperately to get my mojo back.

Reading Mr. Grant’s theory about languishing has, sort of, renewed my hope, given me a reason for how things are, and helped me to think of it differently and not chastise myself for being less productive and less socially eager than I have been in the past. I’d like to thank him for making me think.

Marian Green
Herne Bay, England

To the Editor:

Adam Grant pinpoints the prevailing emotional state due to the pandemic. It is neither burnout nor depression, he says. “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness.”

I would add, using a term defined by the psychoanalyst Masud Raza Khan, that this sense of apathy, lack of purpose and direction is not a vacuum or psychological downturn, but the necessary “fallow space” interval we need to rest within ourselves before we plow, seed and harvest new crops in our lives.

The year 2020 was one of grieving for our loved ones and the world that abruptly came to an end. The year 2021 is one of languishing because of the uncertainty that still prevails. Our fallow lives seem to be at a standstill, but below the surface there is a new self being created that we still cannot see.

Languishing regrets what is no more; fallowness prepares what will be.

Susana Balan
Westhampton, N.Y.
The writer is a psychologist.

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