This week we reached the point where we now have been sheltering at home as long as we spent traveling through Europe in January. Four weeks. It makes me want to weep.

Time is distorted these days, elongated and condensed simultaneously. Like an infamous Zoom meeting, it freezes and then races ahead in a frenetic effort to catch up. Yesterday seems a year ago, last week feels like last minute. One day is the same as the next, boundaries blur.

Not a single day goes by when Matt and I don’t talk about the month we spent in Europe. We speak fondly of people we met—Airbnb hosts who picked us up from train stations and guided us to restaurants, waiters in cafés, tour guides in museums—and wonder how they are, or if they are even still alive. Life these days is a fun house mirror, we stretch and diminish over and over again.

We would know people who got sick, we told ourselves in the early days a mere four weeks ago, our circle is too big both in numbers and geography. And it has happened. As we connect and reconnect, throwing out our nets to those we love, the circumference of our world expands and shrinks with every passing hour.

Meanwhile, Matt and I keep working, filling in the forms of our practices and routines every day. Every afternoon and evening, I teach Zoom and FaceTime piano lessons, the kids and I adapting to this new reality more with every lesson. I watch and respond to dozens of videos the students make and send me every week. I send texts and emails with schedules and reminders every morning. Upon request, we held the first ever Zoom performance class on Friday, heavy on the chatter, light on the music. It was connection the kids most needed, not instruction.

I try to remember that as I bumble through my days, dropping balls. Even though I am functioning—practicing; gardening; doing laundry and preparing meals; endlessly wiping down countertops and light switches, faucet handles and doorknobs, piano keys and steering wheels; doing yoga and going on evening walks—my attention span is highly taxed, stress and anxiety eating at my concentration and stamina. I manage the basics of my work and existence, but not much more. I make to-do lists ridiculous in their simplicity. Nothing demanding, but if I don’t write everything down, things slip through my fingers like water. My mind is a sieve. At night, I sleep like the dead, or not at all.

In The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, the author makes the argument that self-discipline and willpower are not bottomless reserves, that there are limits to these abilities. If one exercises great willpower in the face of a donut at 8am, the account may not have as much to draw from when faced with chocolate at 3pm. “Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things,” Duhigg writes.

There is much about sheltering at home and the realities of our current existence that take an enormous amount of self-discipline and control. Moreover, easy rewards and regular affirmation—the things that under normal circumstances can help boost and support the muscles of good responsible habits—are in short supply these days. Add the complications that stress brings to cognitive functioning and you have a perfect recipe for sloth-like behavior.

I know everyone is equally depleted, kids and adults alike. In teaching, there is a fine line between practicing reasonable accountability and being overwhelmingly demanding, but I am no longer sure how to walk such a tightrope. Every situation, every person, every hour differs widely from the next. Collectively, our moods swing. We have found ourselves in a long race, no finish line in sight, and we have no mile markers to set the course.

On Monday, it snowed, big heavy flakes floated down from the sky most of the day. It is not unheard of to get snow in New Mexico in mid-April, but it is rare, one more thing to further confuse the reality of the present moment. Houseplants that have happily sat outside the back door for six weeks had to be dragged into the sunroom, crowding our space and adding one more chore to the day. Under normal circumstances, such a cozy day might throw me into a freefall of comforting domestic rituals—making soup, piling on sweaters, drinking tea—but on Monday I couldn’t do more than stare blankly outside, disoriented and numb.

In both my best and worst moments, I think about January, that month where we existed in a perfect timelessness while we wandered from place to place. I remember a memorable meal in a tiny restaurant in Orvieto, or the sight of the Great Synagogue lit up against the night sky in Budapest. The tiny cups of coffee. A foggy cold night walking around Vienna. In my mind, I trace our journey from one country to another and try to recreate our steps. The pub lunch with a friend in London and a long walk through Regents Park. The afternoon tea in the village of Chipping Camden in the Cotswolds. The water taxi ride at sunset in Venice. It feels like another world now, carefree and precious.

Back in our corner of the universe which grows smaller every day, we stumble on blindly, finding comfort and small treats where we can to bolster up our good works. “Can I do a fun review this week?” one kid asks. Absolutely, I say. Knock yourself out. I create a video game of Name That Tune rounds. “Is it interactive?” asks an eager ten-year-old boy. Well, sure; it’s interactive in that I text a round, the student sends the answers, I text another round, and so on. During Zoom lessons we chat with equal fervor about key signatures and scale variations and what movies the kids have seen recently. At the end of the day, I pour myself a glass of wine while I view videos of chord progressions. For dinner, we try to reproduce a great pasta we had in Rome. On Easter, I baked Matt a sour cream coffee cake, something in our sugar-conscious middle age I had not done in years. I fall asleep rereading a favorite book, sandwiched in bed between a handsome man and two sweet cats.

Time warps. Four weeks. We keep on, our muscles shaking with the effort.