By Thelma on June 27, 2020
I can’t count the number of times in the last few weeks I have heard, “I am so done with the virus, the isolation, not getting together for brunch, etc.” I hear the words and wonder, so what? What does that mean? Has reality succumbed to your personal “done with”? We all have a very visible role model for delusion, denial, and personal gratification at the expense of others.
As one friend bemoans, “Smart people. Dumb decisions.”
In every episode Mr. Rogers cautioned his viewers to slow down, to be aware, to be considerate. If we do that, he reassured us, we can figure things out.
That is all well and good, but our minds are mostly in a whirlwind. Racing in ever more intense circles of how things should be, of all the things we want and that insidiously seductive, why not.
A Gaelic phrase translates to “quietness without loneliness”. How lovely. If only.
Seneca was besieged by noise and difficulty as he tried to think and write. Everything that disturbed him was out of his control. Yet somehow, he found “the serenity to think clearly and to write incisively.” (Ryan Holiday)
“I have toughened my nerves against all that sort of thing.” Seneca said.
It’s hard being isolated. It’s hard not gathering. Not traveling. Not embracing each other. Is it easier to dwell in the hardness or to toughen our nerves and move into this time with a will and a purpose?
Isolation without purpose is meaningless. No one else can define your purpose. Purpose just to stay alive and healthy. Purpose to keep others more vulnerable safe. Purpose to find projects you never would have done otherwise Purpose to read more. To listen longer. To give your creative nature a space to breathe.
Whatever you choose this time can be a time of soul power. When everyone else is rushing frantically into their old lives we can instead be still. Just for a moment. Breathe.
I started this blog with a quote that is for most of us counter intuitive. Where did that come from? Not a Zen master or Seneca or any other philosopher. It came from a financial adviser quoting Jack Bogles, Vanguard’s founder and retired CEO’s take on how to survive a rocky market.
Bogles writes: “while the interests of the business are served by the aphorism ‘Don’t just stand there. Do something!” the interests of investors are served by an approach that is its diametrical opposite: ‘Don’t do something. Just stand there!”
When I hear “I am so done with this virus,” my mind skips to a question. What are you invested in? Do you want all this to end with the least lives lost? Do you understand that even those who are asymptomatic may down the line suffer from what this virus is stealthily doing to their system? Are you invested enough in yourself, your family, your community to withstand another day of wearing a mask, of sheltered existence?
We are all sacred. We are all weary. We all have days we want to scream at the situation. Maybe the answer lies in stillness instead of noise. Maybe we will find our soul power during this time. Maybe if we only just stand there for a moment we can find the ‘quiet without loneliness’. Maybe we will come to understand our suffering better, its roots and branches. Maybe realizing these things we can be more aware and compassionate.
The late comedian Garry Shandling wrote in his journal:
Give what you didn’t get.
Drop the old story.”
Just writing that feels like a breath of fresh air. Maybe if we just stand still we can connect with our soul power. We can give more, love more, and create a new and vital story all our own.