This post comes from a delicate place as I think we are all—to put it mildly—feeling like ass cheeks rubbed raw by sandpaper. Maybe it really is all too much, this pandemic, the abrupt loss of so much, forced distance from friends and loved ones, death, and the overnight vanishing of a past life—at least our old way of life. Maybe, just maybe, it is all too much. In the past few days, I have been struck by my own muchness. I wonder if a few others, perhaps many or all of you, haven't been sensing that their individual reservoirs are deeper and more voluminous than previously thought?
As another week has passed, I am asking, "how much longer?" with greater frequency, greater urgency. I thought that my experience of getting separated and eventually divorced had prepared me for this experience. I had lost my partner and been effectively shunned by the community I used to call friends and home. I spent more concerted time alone than I thought healthy or possible in those months. Even then, I could go to work, shop freely at the grocery store, visit my family, and have a social life almost without limitation—again, partner and faith community relationships aside.
Some of the big things in life had changed drastically and quickly, but a large proportion of life remained the same. This is so very different. I may have been better prepared than some; I was not prepared for the wholesale change that this pandemic brought on so rapidly.
Now that we are a few weeks in, I begin to wonder how we will start to envision and create the new rhythms and patterns of daily life when life begins to resume some approximation of "normal." If I may be honest, I want to be optimistic, but I struggle with a severe doubt for the future.
Our past does not speak well for the probable future. We are not a culture well-acquainted with grief. Therefore, I doubt that we will sit with ourselves long enough to learn some more profound lessons from the shortcomings of our society. Those shortcomings that have helped contribute to the challenges we have faced and continue to face during this pandemic—as well as long-standing issues from before. If the past is indeed prologue in this case, we have our work cut out for us.
My biggest fear, I have a few for our collective future, is that the income inequality gap that we see today will increase. From what I have seen—and I acknowledge that I'm no economist—we are witnessing yet another inflection point where the wealth gap issue may increase by leaps and bounds as a result of the pandemic.
However, I see there is a real opportunity today. Many of us are feeling overwhelmed, and that is perfectly fine—there is space for you to breathe in the enormity of your unique experience within the collective situation. What if we were to sit with our own reactions to the current moment without judgment? Taking it all in is too much, but asking ourselves where we are in this one moment. Notice each feeling. Thank it for its contribution. Be curious about what it might be trying to communicate about your own deeper truth, deeper reality. What might that be like?
I've been resisting this very exercise for weeks, honestly. It was too scary to go into those depths. It was too dark, too painful, too overwhelming, the thought of getting stuck forever in those emotional depths. But this morning I made a choice to go scuba diving.
It was as if I had dove into an infinite well filled with cold water. Only, I wasn't cold as I gently descended. The water was dark, cold, but I was warm and never lacking breath. Down, down, down. Dark, darker, pitch black. All of a sudden, my steady descent slowed.
I came to a place where I had reached the bottom of this seemingly bottomless chasm. It was warm, almost hot. I could see all around me. I was suspended, weightless.
I didn't feel different, as the cares, worries, concerns, everything all felt the same as before, but I felt lighter as if I was buoyed. At once, I felt the weight of having seen, felt, and experienced all that I have in my life, yet I felt a sense of levity, peace, joy, even euphoria. Reality had not disappeared, but instead felt balanced out by a deeper sense of being held in this moment as heavy as it is. It didn't make today better, but I realized that maybe Mystery or Reality is capable of holding even all of this and seeing me in a way that I feel that we, the universe will all be okay in the future.
I think that we all—each of—are looking to find some certainty, peace, in the universe. Maybe that path lies in and through each of us. Perhaps we must plumb our own depths before we can find that place in the universe where we are ultimately at rest; peace is only found in and through our own darkness.
This is where I choose to place my hope today. Perhaps you'll join me.