This is day 127 of the Covid-19 pandemic being real to me. That many days ago, I hosted a family birthday dinner in our small city dwelling: a Sunday evening celebration of our daughter’s 31st birthday and our new downsized urban abode. There was a buzz of anxiety about the escalation of the virus. There were rumours of shutdowns and mandatory isolation. During our dinner, cell phones were vibrating and pinging. Doing our best to ignore the distractions, we ate and talked “what ifs.” Between the main course and birthday cake, incomings were checked. No one was going into the office the next day–or the one after that, or after that, or after that. Prepare to work from home for the foreseeable future. Stay at home and indoors as much as possible. So, everyone bolted to the store and bought toilet paper and hand sanitizer. The human condition of fear manifested in the need to wipe and wash. For many, though not for me.
I needed to get far away from the threat of loss of freedom. The threat of loss of connection with the outside world. The threat of being told what I could and could not do. So, we headed away from the city, to the countryside where we had space, neighbouring cows and a perceived cocoon of safety from the viral spread. So far, it has worked. In our valley, we have had few cases. And those were many weeks ago. As the authorities gingerly dole out freedoms and loosen rules, we tiptoe with masks on, through the crowds now invading our virus-free territory.
And I am awash with anger and intolerance. I want the cocoon, I think. I’m not afraid of the virus. I’m afraid I’ve gotten brittle and entitled. I’m afraid I can’t access acceptance and gratitude. I’m afraid of my restlessness. The wise ones tell me it’s part of the ebb and flow of pandemic life. It’s part of the unconscious invasion of fear and rage at the media, the politicians and the unravelling moral fibre of democracy. It’s part of living in a messy moment.
So what to engage in? What to do with my porous nature? What to do with the disquiet and chaos within? I pick up the restless angst as one would their knitting. Turn the radio down, focus on the stitches, weave together the discontent into a rationalized story of what’s wrong in the world, in my life, with my people. I rarely drop a stitch. This is a familiar pattern of engagement for me. It’s one I am choosing to rip out. Now.
It’s much easier to pull out yarn than change thoughts and feelings. As my mind clears, I still am plagued with overly critical eyes and restless energy. I see disorder. I sense chaos in my surroundings. I am impatient to be rid of it. My targets are many. The countertop with too much coffee paraphernalia. The freezer with ice packs sliding out and onto bare feet below. The lush garden, thanks to rain, oozing beyond its borders. The pretty deep fuchsia flowers now an invasion of my precious lupines and daisies. As I create clear space on the counter, make orderly and stable stacks of good in the freezer and machete the creeping vines in my garden, my energy is focused and exhaustion promises peace.
Creating order in my immediate world has always served me well. It takes the chaos of emotions and simmering energy within and gives it form and purpose. Outside calm fosters inner quiet for me. I can access moments of acceptance for the broken world as it is now. I can find gratitude in the abundance and health still preserved in my family and friends.
At least, that has been my experience.