I have a ton of work to do tonight and my mind is in a strange place. The world outside has never been so chaotic yet the pulse and pace of things have slowed to a crawl. We’re finding humor in a toilet paper shortage and sharing press releases, advice from medical experts, and apocalyptic meme’s. And, we’re finding ways to bring a sense of balance to the rapidly evolving events and the belief that there are equal amounts of overcoming it out there too.
In my small world, I survived my third day of social distancing. It kept my dinner company at their own home and gave Molly and I a chance to play a few rounds of karaoke roulette via our playlists and Snapchat. I threw some darts at the board I had delivered on Wednesday and the guitar I bought, well, it’s still leaning against a chair, untuned, staring back at me. Neither one of us know what the fuck to do with the other. I’ve developed a necessity based relationship with ham and cheese hot pockets and I’m not sure there’s enough almond milk Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to see me through to the end of this all. I have a drawer full of produce that judges me every time I open the fridge and I’m not sure I’ll get through the four jars of peanut butter I have during this pandemic alone.
History is being created and altered every minute. People will be diagnosed with COVID and others will miss an early diagnosis of other medical condition, such as cancer ,while the world tends to a pandemic. Those working from home now will avoid the frustrations of office life and after the initial peacefulness of solitude wears off, some will realize how much they rely on the people they surround themselves with daily. The difference between alone and lonely will become apparent as social distancing continues and ways to stay connected will become more important as the stigma of busy is shed.
I talked to two of my favorite people today and along with my own grumblings, the common theme was exhaustion, a different kind of exhaustion that took us a few minutes to describe. Our senses are heightened and we’re in protective or survival mode of some type. We have ourselves, our families, jobs, bills, groceries, retirement accounts, our friends and neighbors….even though those things aren’t in our faces all the time they’re still on our minds, and they’re ours to manage, anticipate, and exhaust ourselves over. We don’t have the answers, we don’t have a fix, but we do have the ability to calm down and live in this moment right now where we have the ability to choose how we react to what’s going on around us.
There are few things that will unnerve even those made of steel but, throw anyone in the middle of the unknown, the how longs, and the what if’s and you’ll see the same jumping, ducking, and swaying to see what’s on the other side of those three things by everyone facing them. Just a glimpse…tell me how long this will last, show me it’s going to be ok…anything to quiet the worry committee meeting in my head. As with most things in this life, it won’t be until we get through it that we’ll even begin to understand the magnitude of what we conquered, of what we were able to see ourselves through.
I sat on the floor, in a pitiful lump, and cried today. Not because I’m living in fear or because I’ve become a fatalist- it was more of a WTF do I need to do for myself to be who I need to be for others. Being present and being available are two very important things to me so when I feel like a drooping houseplant that needs a wooden stake jammed in me to keep upright I need to do something. I am one human being with the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else. I’m capable of accomplishing lots of things. I’m able to do even more things with help. When did we or more so when did I become so self supporting that asking for help or support became something out of my comfort zone?
I heard a story today that a friends daughter was sick and she wasn’t sure if she had a fever and needed a thermometer. Everywhere she went was sold out so she just went home. My friend said my God I have three or four of them at home why didn’t you just ask me, I would have brought you one. It would have been a simple call, and a caring transaction, but we’re so conditioned that we have to be self supporting because everyone is “busy” and “has their own life”. Oh and let’s not forget that the label “needy” that gets thrown around a lot. There is a distinct difference between being needy and needing someone. One usually involves victim mentality and an audience while the other is a form of surrender that life becomes easier and less complicated with interaction from another human being.
I’ve seen all kinds of suggestions to fill time during this momentary slow down like read a book, cook a meal from scratch, call an old friend…the list goes on and on. I think now is also a good time to practice a little vulnerability. To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever been good at it but I’ve been thankful for the moments I was able to be. On the 4th anniversary of Ken’s death, I didn’t want to be alone but I didn’t have anything to say so a friend of mine talked to me for an hour and a half while I simply listened and didn’t say a word. Finding the words to tell someone what I needed and then trusting them to help me was an experience I hold close and give a 5 star rating, would recommend as well. In our isolated bubbles it’s ok to need people, to need different people than the ones you share walls with 24 hours a day. Keep sharing meme’s, send dumb videos, chat for the hell of it. Building connections and being available and vulnerable may be one of the keys to seeing our way to the other side of the unknowns, the how longs, and the what if’s…..