Today I looked up at a large cobweb swaying from my ceiling and I thought, how long has that been there?
I technically started quarantining a week ago now, but there’s been so much to do to prepare for extreme limiting of contact that I’ve been busier rather than less busy.
The busy-ness has been a shield of sorts, there are so many people to check on, I could stay busy all day every day right now. There’s virtual meetings to set up and get going, there’s still so much I could do.
My brain is telling me to stop. It never could all get done in one day anyway.
When was the last time I vacuumed these cobwebs?
On my ceiling… in my mind…
I baked cookies with my kids today, something I used to do a lot, but hadn’t done in recent years.
Remembered how much I love to do that, cleared away that cobweb.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll vacuum the cobwebs off the actual ceiling… or maybe I’ll leave them a while longer to remind me to check first for the cobwebs in the corners of my mind.
Last night I had to have the, “no we can’t go anywhere and no we can’t have anyone over” talk with one of my kids. And then in answer to the question, “how long?”
“I don’t know, buddy, I’ve never lived through a pandemic before.”
And there it is, the unknown creeping right up into my five-year olds life. We’ve explained in the least scary terms possible. We’re staying home to help keep vulnerable people safe. We didn’t explain that I’m one of the vulnerable. We’re practicing love of neighbor.
I’ve talked to a lot of people this week and there’s a thread that emerges. None of us have lived through anything like this and we are grieving everything from regular social interactions to trips planned to enjoying march madness or other sporting events or what have you.
People are scrambling to keep different aspects of work or church or what have you going with video conferencing so for some this week has been busier than others, but strange.
And then there’s the school closures, the work closures, the coffee dates with friends.
The word that comes to mind is untethered.
Suddenly things that tied us into our lives have all been cut loose and great uncertainty and anxiety are all that are seemingly offered in their place. Days feel strange and it doesn’t take long for them to both feel very long, and start blurring together, making us feel untethered even in space and time, and it’s incredibly disorienting.
I think there’s a way through this though besides imposing schedules on our days, which may or may not be helpful depending on our personalities. I think it involves first of all compassion for ourselves and allowing the feelings of sadness and loss and anxiety to just be. We have a tendency as humans to minimize our own feelings and not allow ourselves to feel. We tell ourselves that things could be worse, or “at least __________ isn’t happening so this isn’t a big deal.” This leads us to be cut off from our feelings and also means we are prone to minimize the feelings of others in the same way. Feelings are just feelings and they are all valid. Just acknowledge them, and let them be.
After we’ve moved through a period of acknowledgement, this disorientation may be an opportunity to reexamine our tethers and see which ones are holding us to vital areas of life and which ones are holding us down. Temporary freedom from many of them may give us some much needed space to examine them.
It also gives us a perspective on how interconnected we are to the entire globe and I fervently hope that gives us a way forward to build a better society as we emerge from this historic moment in time.
The day is dark from thick layers of clouds and fog, and as my eight year old runs around outside joyfully he proclaims, “see how beautiful it is today, mom, with all this fog.” The day is dark because the senate acquitted the president on what should have been two no-brainer charges, some of the easiest things that congress could have chosen to impeach him on. I’m glad they took the step to impeach, and yet I can’t help but feel some ambivalence about the fact that it wasn’t the human rights abuses at the border, the children in cages, the asylum seekers deported to face murder, rape, and torture instead of being allowed in for safety. And then, empowered by his impending acquittal at the hands of a party who’ve decided that closing ranks almost unanimously behind someone lacking in any morals, he gives the medal of freedom to one of the most racist and bigoted voices in our country.
And it’s hard for me to see the beauty in that sort of dark day, the fog surrounding my house in a layer of wintery mystery feels very different than the fog surrounding the outcome of his behavior in light of this inevitable acquittal.
I know many of you feel the same.
The thing about fog when you need to get somewhere is there’s nothing to do but take it slow and move forward. You can’t rush in with your high beams on because you’ll decrease the visibility and increase the danger to yourself and those with you. All you can do is make sure you’ve got everyone with you and proceed slowly with determination through the fog. Each step we take the fog clears around us and we can see a little more in front of us.
History is always easier to read sections of when the sections are complete. The war ended, the sickness ceased, people moved on and lived their lives and accomplished things.
It’s harder to live through a difficult section of history not knowing how long it lasts and how it’s going to turnout.
And since we can’t know that, I would argue that the outcome doesn’t matter to our individual actions right now. All we can do is the next right thing (yes, I’m totally quoting Frozen 2, I have little kids and it was a killer song).
I do know that being sucked into the constant news cycle whether online or on television is draining. So turn that off. Anything major, you’ll hear about soon enough anyway. Get up, move your body, and find the next right thing.
I heard the news the vote was in and immediately got up, made a pot of coffee, and danced to La Bamba. Partly because I badly needed to move my body, and partly because the song choice would be an unwelcome one if the powers that be could see me doing it. Then I came in here to write this because I wanted to help give voice to the heaviness, to the uncertainty, to the disappointment, inevitable though it may have been, and to offer my hands, to pull us all together, to walk through the fog.
Now figure out what the next right thing looks like, get together for a rally, go register some voters, reach out to some friends so they know they are not alone, gather your people, check on them. And just take the next step.