I feel like I “should” be writing during this strange time, but I struggle to find things to say. What should I write about? Today I played board games, mulched the yard, and took 100 walks with the dog. But there are times when I feel reflective; like I have been training for this moment for the past decade – practicing stillness and meditation, finding gratitude in the smallest of things, practicing presence, letting go of the things over which I have no control. In those moments, and in others where I take the time to play a song on the piano or paint a picture with my daughter, I don’t mind this time at all.
There are also times when I grow impatient. If I believe in the story that “things happen for a reason,” and that this strange time is meant to teach us all to be still for a while, to appreciate the things we have taken for granted for too long, to recognize the holiness in each and every person’s humanity regardless of race, age, gender, economic status, etc., I find myself frustrated – thinking, “Dammit – I’ve already LEARNED these lessons.” I get angry at people like Mr. Trump, who seem so spiritually behind the curve of these important life lessons, and I think to myself, “Do I really have to WAIT for the likes of HIM to learn these things before we can get back to NORMAL?”
And then I think again.
Hmmm. If I am feeling this impatient and angry, I obviously still have some learning and work to do. Deep breaths. One day at a time. Forgiveness. Patience—patience is definitely a lesson that the Universe seems to throw at me repeatedly. I haven’t entirely gotten the hang of it yet.
Another feeling that keeps returning to me during this time, like a strange déjà vu, is the memory of my initial cancer diagnosis. It was ten years ago in February. On February 10, 2010, I made a quick (and impulsive?) decision to do a repeat surgery just one week after the first, so that I could “get it all over with” as quickly as possible, and “get back to normal.” I could have taken my time, waited six months, looked for second opinions, etc. I don’t know if it would have changed the outcome. I will never know. But the memory of those uncomfortable feelings surrounding that experience reminds me that when you are in the midst of an anxious and uneasy time, there is no hurrying to get it over with. Even with the decision to have surgery right away, there was still an arduous journey to find a “new normal” afterwards. There was no escaping it. Impulsive decisions toward action neither shortened the journey nor made it any easier. I suppose in the moment, it made me feel like I was being proactive. But so what? That fleeting feeling of satisfaction from action may have done more harm than good. (Kind of like opening up the country too early would likely do now).
So, I sit here in front of my computer in the “messy middle” (as Brene Brown calls it) of quarantine. It’s too early to have any perspective in terms of what this all means or how it will play out. We can pretend to make plans and take action toward things that may or may not pan out—if that is what makes us feel better in the moment— but it won’t change what is. All we can do is be present, find gratitude in small things, do the best we can to keep ourselves and others safe, and remember that if we are still here, still breathing, we have everything that we need today. Easier said than done.