Years of meditation practice have allowed me to sometimes approximate a sane person.
The other day, I awoke inundated by cortisol and genuine worries, both pandemic-related and other. I didn’t know how I would get out of bed, much less make it through a very full day.
Sitting up halfway, trying to muster my gumption to get a move on, a question popped into the tiny bit of spaciousness my meditation practice has created in my head:
Is there some way I can see this differently?
I didn’t have an answer, actually. But it made a little room in my heart to not feel quite so despondent. Times like these, that's a precious gift.
Subsequently, I’ve been finding plenty of applications for a “see-this-differently” approach!
One area that's ripe for a bigger vision? My son's senior year.
For the class of 2020, there’s no senior prom. No big, festive graduation. I hear that some kids (well, young adults, at this point) are defying social-distancing rules and hanging out without protections. But mine aren’t. Most others aren’t, either.
And these kids are lonely. All of them. Not just the marginalized kids. Not just the students who don’t “fit in,” or are “different.”
In a way, it’s kind of an amazing moment for the latter groups, I suspect.
Popular people just can’t be popular in the same ways while sheltering in place. And perhaps people who are often lonely can’t judge themselves (and others) in the usual ways. This is simply how it is—for everybody.
Is it possible that pandemic-induced social isolation actually mitigates the social isolation that so many feel in their usual day-to-day lives?
I think of my mother-in-law, who—despite having seven living children—rarely sees anyone besides a caregiver who comes for a few hours every day and the one daughter who lives in the same city.
Now, she must feel less disappointed—because nobody’s seeing anybody. I hope so, anyway.
I think of my son, who as a junior so assiduously tried to get a date for the prom—with no success. At that time, I began to pre-worry about this year's prom.
These days, I’ve been asking myself if the lack of prom is actually a great way for those who might not have found a date to avoid a lifetime of that bad memory?
That said, is social-distancing in some ways a blessing in disguise for students who struggle socially? Especially those who connect better digitally?
Has this terrible pandemic created online social spaces that are more accepting?
If everybody is lonely, are some lonelier than others? Or are our children (and elders, and selves) being equally lonely, together but apart? Maybe even experiencing loneliness in ways that might make them (us) more compassionate and inclusive for the long term?
In other words, is this challenging period in some ways a powerful equalizer? Aside from all the myriad challenges and tragedies, are we finally learning to create a world in which there’s more acceptance and our real gifts shine and we can be free to be ourselves? (I know a lot of wild animals certainly feel that way right now.)
Also, I'm wondering what will continue to resonate most after we’ve moved through the pandemic—the terrible loneliness and fear, or the unprecedented shared experience of an extraordinary time?
I certainly see how this global crisis exacerbates inequalities around access and economics, and I genuinely fear many of us, and many of our towns and cities, may not be able to recover—for a very long time.I mourn for the hundreds of thousands dead, and for their living loved ones who couldn't be with them at the end.I'm deeply grateful for the many brave essential workers who have risked their lives to keep civilization functioning worldwide.
Here in my own small, relatively safe universe, I nevertheless experience waves of such sadness, fear, plain-old grumpiness...So I’m trying to see things slightly differently, in the interest of family and community morale, in general, and personal sanity, in particular.
May we in our mutual loneliness find ways to uplift ourselves and each other. Some days, that’s going to be really hard. On those days, may we remember that it's possible to see our lives from another perspective.
Stay well, dear persons.
You are not alone in your fears or your loneliness or your joys, and you are loved,
Full Spectrum Mama