Over the summer, my daily life took an unusual pause, as quarantine and stay-at-home orders tossed an extensive amount of time right at my face. Instead of being busy with school and extracurriculars, I stayed home and watched the world experience a global pandemic. My saving grace in all of this, however, consisted of countlessly folding and creasing origami paper and learning to play the guitar.
When Hawaii went into its first statewide lockdown last spring, I looked up different origami designs online. YouTube became my new best friend because of its vast variety of tutorials that guided me through the passing days. I spent a lot of those days folding delicate pieces of paper into hearts, stars, dinos and more, but it was the crane that I enjoyed making the most. I like making cranes because it was the first origami I learned about from my mom. At first, it was really difficult to understand the process of folding the paper correctly, but eventually I learned through hours of practice and many careful creases.
After finishing a few origami, I would look back at my growing collection of folded friends. And when I made a great one, I gave them away to those who would accept.
Along with making origami, I also started playing the guitar. My sister left a guitar behind when she moved away. Learning was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Despite playing a couple of musical instruments already, guitar still challenged me. Though the sounds were sweet, the frustration it brought on was less so.
The red markings on my fingers, left from pressing down on guitar strings, were evidence of my attempt to learn. I encountered many issues along the way, which I honestly had no idea how to fix. Thankfully, I was able to reach out to a friend, Yuna Lee, who had been playing for more than 12 years.
Lee understood the beginning struggles of the guitar and difficulties in an environment, such as the one I found myself in during quarantine. Being isolated from people who might be able to help me became the biggest limiting factor in all of this. I had very little choice but to look towards an online platform. That’s why much of my time with Yuna was spent over Skype, with the occasional in-person meeting.
“A big part of learning is having social contact with others learning with you,” Lee said. “When you take that away, it’s almost like taking away a big part of how you learn.”
Despite the challenges of quarantine and living through a pandemic, there were still ways to not only grow but to also find peace.
According to psychologist Dr. Maria Micha, in a “Clozette” interview, starting a new hobby allows us the opportunity to “create a different mindset” that fulfills our desire to “seek changes in our daily routines, be it big or small.”
In my time repeatedly folding pieces of paper or switching between chords, I was able to find more peace. I was at ease and noticed how, before the pandemic, I wasn’t distancing myself from the stressful parts of daily life.
“Music is a great creative outlet that I have been able to apply to many different parts of my life,” Lee said. “It’s a great stress reliever and a great form of self-expression.”