(Song Dedication: Under Pressure by David Bowie & Queen)
I haven’t been so much avoiding writing a new post as I have been busy. Busy staying home, busy teaching my son, busy supporting my husband who is now 2 weeks into working from home, busy writing and working on a personal project, busy trying to not inundate others who are already feeling the pressure of being overwhelmed by Covid-19-Coronavirus memes, factoids, articles and the 24-hour news stream.
So what the heck am I doing now then? Did my duty to this blog and it’s humble group of regular readers get the best of me and my ego?
No, I just realized we all have one thing in common right now. No matter if you have been reading my posts from India or Japan, the UK or right here in my home province of BC, if you’ve been reading since the Art of Beingness conception back in 2017, reading my musings at random or have just happened to stumble across this one singular post on social media. You are reading it by choice.
And that my friends, is the most stunning power we all hold right now in our very own hands, our own lives and our own context of how this global pandemic is impacting us.
We all possess the capability to exercise choice.
And no I don’t mean this to be flippant, because I am abundantly aware that some people, some of us, have fewer options to choose from depending on our current life situation. If you are elderly or have a compromised immune system, if you are homeless, if you were living pay check to pay check and have now lost your job, if you suffer from an abusive or neglectful relationship at home, if you are an essential worker who has to leave your children each morning to face the frontlines head on, or if you are someone who simply lives alone and thrives on your day to day routine of human contact via social structures like grabbing a coffee or beer at your local establishment, going to church, volunteering and engaging within the community, your community.
Your choices are difficult and likely stress-inducing, making you feel as though you may have no choice at all in this matter. And what I just described as a “person” there, is limited in the rambling word count I pride myself on, but believe me there are so many others who fall in between all of the above descriptions, because how do you really accurately describe all of humanity in a blog post?
Thankfully months ago I read Dr. Edith Eger’s memoir, The Choice: Embrace the Possible. A highly recommended read, if you haven’t or heck even if you have, a re-read for times like these. An astonishing account by a young woman, of years of survival in Nazi death camps during the Holocaust. It is her feminine perspective, her youthful recall as a much older woman presently combined with her philosophy that makes this a timely and compelling read. Ultimately her message is, no matter how stripped bare of your humanity and dignity by outside circumstances, you always have one choice.
Our singular choice is the very same right now, in the face of uncertainty as this global pandemic seeps through every fibre of the human consciousness.
Your choice, like mine, is:
how do you choose to respond to your current situation?
And when I say respond, I encourage you to think about the word as in “first-responder”. How would you like a first-responder (firefighter, medic, police officer, etc.) to behave at your car-crash? Erratic and distracted, full of adrenaline and dread or rather, calm and reassuring, deeply grounded and prepared. I think we all know which multiple choice answer gets the most votes here.
This is by no stretch meant to guilt you into a false sense of calm, because, no shit man, this is fer-fucking-reals right now and stuff is more-than going sideways. It is upside down and backwards.
This is also not meant to be me saying (in a perhaps light and breathy voice), I am so enlightened and am solely using this home-time that Mother Nature has forced upon us for the damage we have inflicted upon her, to find myself immersed in daily yoga, meditation, healthy fuel and only loving words of comfort falling from my lips into the ears of my family and friends, because that would be a big fat lie.
I am uncertain of how this all shakes out. I wonder not even when but IF life, my life that I was finally fucking learning how to enjoy, will ever be the same again. I too have anxiety about the ambiguity of humanity’s future.
But whenever I am able, which I try often, I am checking myself. I am asking myself what worry do I have right in this very moment? And if there is one, I try to respond instead of react to meet that need.
Here are a few examples that might resonate for you too:
- I am feeling restless and I’ve turned to eating copious amounts of food, I allow it. Yup, I go there with that bag o’chips because a few extra ten pounds won’t be the end of me. Only if I let myself sink into the guilt of what I’ve done, will the mindless eating persist. And I did give in last night to the craving, but feel a bit more resilient today. So when my husband and son left on a fieldtrip to the recycle depot, I was secretly planning on
eatingdevouring another piece of cheesecake, but here I am fervently typing to save myself the indignity of answering to the boys later when they ask knowingly full well, Who ate all the cheesecake?! Now just to keep writing until they return, and if they don’t I guess it was meant to be, me and that cheesecake in my belly….I have got to stop writing cheesecake!
- I want to retreat to my room and binge watch Netlfix, without the commentary of my son’s what’s so funny about that’s and I don’t get its. Then I do. Wednesday evening after day 3 of home-schooling my kid, which actually went well since I happen to be an elementary school teacher with lots of grade 3 experience (and that’s not meant to make you feel bad, it’s to highlight the fact that I’m a bloody trained, veteran teacher who is also tired and challenged at times by the prospect of suddenly becoming my child’s primary carer AND teacher!) But yes back to Wednesday night, I was feeling irritable and withdrawn and I just wanted space. When my husband emerged from his windowless, makeshift office in the basement, I felt like being grumpy with him but paused and told him what I was feeling. He was like, Uh Ya! Then go hide then! We got this, see you later. I jumped from the couch and said, Sweet! See you tomorrow! He pointed out that it was only 4:10 pm and gently suggested that they would perhaps see me a while later? But for all intents and purposes, I was given the space to be alone and zone out for a bit, alone…as in all by myself…with no one to ask me a question or expect me to do something. So clutch.
- Our son would play Minecraft and watch Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn (that order may be incorrect) all day and night without any reservation. So we let him. No I’m kidding. I mean he is getting a shit ton of screen time and my brain happens to negotiate that at least if we “limit” his iPad time and then encourage him to switch over to the TV screen and maybe even some time on my laptop typing up one of his hair-brained stories, that the varying size of screen will have a slightly less negative impact on his overall intelligence and development? Bleak I know and a bit in jest, but only a bit. But what we are trying our best at is yes, there is more screen time indeed, however we break it up with a family activity like eating a meal, no seriously. And everyday, we are getting out for a walk with our dog. Believe me there are times were he resists, why would he want to leave the entertainment of a screen for plain old fresh air and real chirping birds in real trees? But once he’s out there, like us, he settles in and breaths deep and suddenly there is hope and a smile, with the stretch of leg muscles and pumping of blood.
Like I said, only a few (yet-very-sarahesque, long-winded, painfully honest) examples for what we are doing here in the Guest Household. They may not be the best choices recommended by the experts, but we are trying to make the best of a bad situation. We are staying home to do our part to reduce the spread. And at the end of all this, I want to be able to reflect on it as a time that was made better by our imperfect family time together. I don’t want it to be guilt-riddled and shameful and pockmarked by our anxiety and amplified triggers.
I want to keep us talking. I want to see us listening and sharing our feelings and thoughts without judgement. I want to be able to take our better selves out into the post-covid world and say that we more than survived, we got through it together with some semblance of grace, apart from the fact that we must be physically separated from the rest of our support network and our regular day-to-day lives that we miss so much.
I choose to be okay with whatever I choose in any given moment. I hope you choose this too. Be easy on yourselves, during these difficult times.