The Cure Part II: Connection

The tensions are palpable, so much so they are now impossible to ignore. And they aren’t all exactly the same – everyone you see is carrying a burden you know nothing about. Lack of resources, sick family, loneliness from isolation, anxiety of the uncertainty to come, the list goes on.

I was out grabbing a few essentials yesterday, and amidst the flood of UPS and FEDEX trucks on the road making up for all of the stores shutting down – one of the biggest upheavals of our day to day during this time – a knot formed in my stomach.

Things are not good. They’re going from bad to worse, and there is simply no getting around it at this point. The economy is beginning to crumble like we haven’t seen before, small family businesses are becoming obsolete, people are losing their jobs right and left (and those who haven’t lost their jobs have their hands tied with a lack of childcare).

It’s all too much. All for reasonable measure, no doubt. But it’s still okay to say – it just feels like too much.

As I looked around at all the cars on the road, though, into the faces of the people in them, I realized something else, too – their faces matched mine. It was almost as if they were hearing, listening, feeling their ways right into my head and heart. And you know what?

They were.

There isn’t one human who isn’t being affected by this terrible, strange invasion of every sense of normal we knew even just weeks ago.

Because the reality is that as different as we all are, there is one thing every one of us has in common, and that is our humanity. Our humanity that at its core is much more humble, more more limited, much more imperfect than we lead ourselves to believe here and now in the 21st century. In this day and age of incredible technology and access to anything and everything we may need at any given moment, we have become very good at deceiving ourselves into thinking we are immune to one of our most basic humans needs: each other. But in doing so, we are denying the reality of our very being. This works temporarily for our mental and emotional needs because we can hide those from the naked eye – a little concealer here, a fake smile there.

But enter a worldwide pandemic (nod to you, Covid-19), and it’s hard to look another person in the eye with any sort of agenda, be it social, political, religious, parenting, etc. Because all you’re looking at, really, is another human.

Another human just like you.

And it’s blatant. What is every store sold out of right now?

Toilet paper. Lysol. Soap.

Why?

Because it turns out we’re actually a lot more similar than we think to our neighbor – the atheist, the feminist, the rich one, the poor one, the preacher one, the gay one, the straight one, the staunch republican, the staunch democrat.

Every one of us needs. Not one human doesn’t.

And to need is a vulnerable thing because we associate it with weakness in our culture.

But what if we stopped projecting that tainted view of being in need onto one another, and instead offered it some understanding, some empathy, some compassion? Because we’ve all been there. Heck, we’re all there right now. And some a lot more so than others and for reasons that are way outside of their control.

Let us keep moving forward. We can. If there was ever a time to lay down our pride and comfort to save and support one another (literally), it is now. Let us be kind, let us be understanding, let us be generous, let us be self-sacrificial in the ways that we are able to.

May we bear with each other’s grief with extended empathy and understanding, and when your eyes meet those of another human’s, smile before you look away. Connect. Remind people they are seen. Of all the needs we don’t have the power to meet right now, this is one that we do.

And I believe that we can.

 

The Cure Part I: Perception

Living to see and experience a pandemic is something that has left me at a loss for words, but not in the way I expected. Everywhere we turn right now, it seems we are being tempted to fear.

The hoarding, the quarantines, the closing of businesses – it is so much. Life as we know it has come to a screeching halt. It’s downright eerie, this panic and quiet desolation. And for good reason, might I add. If we want to live to see the other side of all of this, this is undoubtedly the way through. It is not this that I have come to question, but something more. Something deeper. Something we are at risk of missing if we are not willing to look more closely.

The question, as always, is what are we to make of this? For again, as always, the answer is deeper than what we’re given at face value.

Have we been sentenced to cabin fever, or a permission to slow down?

To be cooped up, or to rest with our families – the very ones we have committed ourselves first and foremost to?

I wonder if our lives have become so rushed and distracted that we’ve lost the ability to see the ordinary, everyday beauty right under our very noses. It is all too tempting to slip into “FOMO,” to deceive ourselves into believing we are missing out on the spectacular busy-ness we have so accustomed ourselves to.

But what I’ve found over the last couple weeks of what I thought would be extended time “cooped up with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no one to see” is how misguided my perception has been of what is truly spectacular.

We were created to be, to experience, and to know deeply the extraordinary, yes. But maybe we can use this standstill in time, space, and activity to redefine that word, rather than living in fear and dread of what it looks like to live “without.”

If our bodies and souls are nourished with food and the people we love, after all, are we really without?

Maybe the extraordinary has been here all along and we have simply ignored it, swept it to the side, in the name of bigger, better, more.

May we look up.

May we keep doing our daily, ordinary things – brewing our coffee, preparing our meals, working (accepting whatever form that comes in right now and releasing those parts that we cannot control), cleaning our houses, folding our laundry, bathing and snuggling our little people (did you ever stop to notice the preciousness that is their bedhead?), taking our vitamins, drinking enough water, eating well, supporting the smaller businesses and creators who work to bring beauty and good into the world so that their worlds can keep spinning too.. the list goes on.

And for the love of all that is good, wild, and holy, may we step outside. May we breathe in the fresh cusp-of-springtime air, smell its beautiful flowers, touch the moist, fertile earth it all comes from, and remember that it, too, is what our creator has formed us from. May we prune our gardens, simple or grandiose, remembering the importance of shedding what is dead, unnecessary, or both, to make space for new life.

There are so many things – so many sacred things – right in front of us, if we would only look.

Yes, we are whole right now. As is. The world is not stopping – it is our pace and perception that are simply being held under a magnifying glass. May we have the courage to truly look at and make the space for what we find this close up.