Lately, the notion of writing – that singular vulnerability – has kept my pencils sharpened and papers clean – unused. Too many folks are wrestling to breathe and pay their mortgage. Too many exhausted teachers and delivery drivers and doctors and nurses and CNAs cleaning up the fallout of a “hoax” unnecessarily killing hundreds of thousands of Americans and more than 1.5 million people worldwide – so far. What little lights can I offer in such darkness?
Months of virulence have demanded we unselfishly isolate to slow the spread as we wait on a non-magical vaccine. The long quiet or stay-in-placeness offers to either give us time to deal with our sh*t or allow us time to dig a bigger festering hole to put it in. For me, the quiet has had its say. And it’s still talking.
I am listening. I’ve stopped digging.
A few ideas have proven true these quiet months of walking miles of Flint Hills and missing the embrace and easy laughter of friends:
• We cannot fix this world, our fear or our great conditioned cruelties by acquiring more stuff, dislodging all of our stuff or attempting perfection in any way. Likely a holdover from an early life that earned me CPTSD, I thought that I could – that I was SUPPOSED to figure out how to make it all better – eradicate suffering, abuses of every kind, human trafficking and loneliness. If I could just work super hard, take 10 for the team, pretend hurtful things didn’t matter and be perfect, I could do it. Right?
Then crazy things like 2020 happen when a tiny tiny tiny virus wreaks immeasurable havoc and the world and our familiar defences skid to a stop. Almost. And fear foments an unveiling of our worst selves. Oy. CONCLUSION: We cannot solve or heal or mend the world alone. But one can act with knees shaking and work in the discomfort of opposing and simultaneous truths and do our parts to mend the pieces of the world at our hand. Hopefully we do what we can in good company – at least our own good company.
We are not asked to do it all alone or 24/7 … though many parents, teachers, health professionals and service providers rightly feel like they’ve been asked to go it alone 24/7. My heart quiets for you, which seems so small. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I am learning too slowly that we can be our true goofy selves and offer kindnesses our souls can afford though they stretch in the effort. Hold a door and a boundary. Read with a kid or sing with someone who’s memory is a little lost. Assume positive intent and don’t make a big deal about it. Wear a mask of one sort and not the other. Use your blinker. Slow down. Each small action is a potential singularity* to mend the world we’re in. *Singularity (system theory), in dynamical and social systems, a context in which a small change can cause a large effect. (Wikipedia)
• I stopped writing for a while because I did not want to add to the miasma of media that craved our attention. Elections are bad enough, but add a global pandemic, civil weariness and unrest, and the ink and pixels committed to publish this year could drown the sea and fuel a nation. In all of this, I came to one clarifying CONCLUSION: Always check your motive, ask “Am I sharing fresh water I have found or seeking validation?” Youch.
• This last “aha” followed a particularly quiet and rainy isolated weekend that revealed I was not dealing with anger in a healthy way. I was trying to love where no love existed and trying to fix what was not mine to fix. I was expecting people to be just and fair as I define it.
And I had murdered my boundaries in an attempt to be perfect and acceptable – valued (see paragraphs above). When quiet and stillness pulled the curtain back and after years of restorative work and months of COVID distancing, they revealed fear-fueled puppet masters behind a lifetime of swallowing my anger and over working to be free. (My heart is beating like a humingbird’s as I write this.) CONCLUSION: We are not required to be perfect. We are allowed to be our imperfect selves – messy on the inside, a mustard splotch on our shirt and 100% worthwhile.
Which brings me to the one thing I have written and posted where I can see it daily. I want to be “transformed by every kind of love.” To be an open and joyful recipient. A boundaried offer-er.
It’s up to me.
In this isolating time, I continue to scrape away at the shame of a story I did not choose. To treat myself as I want to be treated – with loving kindness, patience, humor and adventure. Sounds goofy or frou-frou, but the idea can be summed up like this, “you can’t offer what you don’t have.” It’s science. I can’t offer you a mug of coffee or glass of wine if my cupboards are bare. So I will fill my cupboards myself, with the love I look forward to sharing. Even if it is just me and a pup. There will be lots of love and coffee in that cupboard.
It’s imperfect, this round up of ideas, and hard won. I don’t have it all figured out, but “I’m finally in the doorway.” Come on by. I’ll share what I have. Coffee, tea, imperfection and quiet.