Little did I know that my last blog post in January would apply to life in March. I wrote then about feelings of loneliness and isolation and how it helps to remember that we can hold each other in spirit if not in person. And now, here we are, in a whole new world of social distancing and quarantine under the terrifying shadow of a deadly pandemic. So yeah.
Others have already written brilliantly about the mass grief we're experiencing and how this era is changing all our lives and society. This post is just my two cents on the matter.
First of all, I'm so grateful to the medical professionals, researchers, farmers, grocery workers, pharmacists, and countless more who are doing everything they can to keep us alive and afloat during this crisis. And I'm also grateful to the artists and bored folks at home who are entertaining us and keeping us as lighthearted as possible.
I'm doing ok and I hope you are too. This isn't easy for anyone. I hope you'll reach out if you need anything or if you just want to talk. I'm here. (That's a real offer.)
I've been thinking a lot about how sudden change affects us. For me, when there's a shocking change, a major loss, or even a delightful surprise, I float for a while in what must be denial. It just doesn't seem real. It just doesn't seem true. This is when I have huge feelings. Lots of crying and panic and loss of sleep.
And then, after a while, I accept whatever it is and my feelings calm or even numb, but I wonder if life will ever be the same again. I do a lot of looking backwards and forwards. I do a lot of predicting and analyzing. I need a lot of data about why something happened and I need a lot of soothing around how it all might look moving forward.
And then, slowly, I start to remember to be present. I start to let go of my need for reasons and my wish for expectations. I let my emotions come and go and I try not to control them or judge them too much. I look around at where I am, who I'm with, the texture of my tablecloth, the way the evening light moves through the clouds outside my window, and I think: this is it.
Life, my life, our lives, are fragile. Normal never holds. There's always going to be something that will change us forever. It's not always scary or upsetting, but it's always dynamic. It's never what we thought it was going to be. When we feel safe and at peace, that's a blessing of course, a beautiful moment, but it's also not the whole picture. It's just a stop along the way. Moreover, it's not wrong or right that life is this way. It just is.
There's a lot about my life and my path that is largely predictable. School, college, career, marriage and kids. But there are other stories in there too. Twisting, winding stories about heartbreak, and hilarity, and adventure, and danger, and desire, and a constant, steady, love of it all. A love so strong it hurts.
So I'm traveling, and this is new, strange territory. I'm putting one foot in front of the other and trying to pay attention. I'm writing as much as I can. I'm loving the people I'm with. I'm holding space for the ones I can't be with, and I know you're traveling out there too. Change is hard, but it's also what makes us alive.
This is me waving at you. Til we meet again.