Just What the Doctor Ordered

The COVID-19 Chapter, “At Home”: DAY 3

THE DOCTOR SAYS:

  • WASH YOUR HANDS
  • DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE
  • COUGH INTO YOUR ELBOW
  • STAY HOME IF YOU ARE ILL
  • PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING

YES. I have no doubt this pandemic is real. I continue to think we are in the calm before the storm, and we must take heed from other populations, and learn the lessons they have to teach. So I’m still swimming around in that space, and playing games with my mind. I’m making choices about how to deal these feelings, as we peer over the precipice into a public health crisis.

When my focus goes wide – I educate myself about the updates and progress of the Coronavirus, which is spreading with lightning speed. I take in as much as I can tolerate. I examine the facts and figures of new cases, locations, fatalities… I read and trust what Dr. Fauci says in his statements to the public. I study the charts and graphs, along with clever and handy infographics that help disseminate facts.

I am no ostrich.

The information is ready and accessible. I do my due diligence to understand and digest it. I wait, just like everyone else to see MORE numbers roll in, MORE deaths to report, MORE economic ruin that will doubtless crush millions of people, worldwide. My family too, will very likely feel the pinch, as we are both independent contractors, with no assurance of paychecks if we don’t have work to do. I dread the potential moment when I find out that I know someone personally who has contracted the virus, and even worse, that someone I know and love has died from it. There he is – Mr. Boogeyman – seducing me in with his panic-inducing charm. And then …

Self preservation kicks in.

When I narrow the focus, and take note of how my Inner Introvert is reacting to this totally unprecedented societal shut down, I must admit, with some uncomfortable guilty feelings, that there is a teeny bright side to the pace of life slowing down for a little while.

How many times zillions of times, daily, have I thought, “I just want everything to slow down. I wish I had more time to relax. I just want TIME, to do *this*, to do *that*. I live, as many of us do, with a constant underlying feeling of bitter resentment for the pace of our lives. I talk about it a lot with moms, friends and colleagues. It’s a go-to topic of conversation. It’s become a way of life. It’s the common tie that unites nearly everyone I know. It’s the part of life everyone loves to hate.

Today I realized, while giving myself some space to turn away from the sadness and worry about what is happening, and I know it’s happening – to breathe. I let myself feel the relief in the expanse of time and loosening of constraints. I let it wash over me that we had absolutely nowhere to be today. It’s like a giant free pass. These are certainly not the conditions under which I would want to have this “free time”, please believe me. But as I cannot change this global occurrence, I can choose to take care of myself, my family, and my mental health. There are some mental backflips that are happening, that’s for sure. And I can pretty much guarantee that there will be posts from days to come that will look and sound a lot different than this one. But for just a moment, the idea of slowing our roll, of having less pressure to be a thousand places, and do a thousand things, frankly, feels kinda great.

For today, I am breathing in the moment. Will you allow me this? Will I allow me this? Will you allow yourself this?

There is a feeling I still get when a huge snowstorm shuts the city down for a few days. Big force of nature – Small me. I have a strange fondness for this feeling – of being reminded that in the big scheme of things, the little stuff just doesn’t matter. I’m playing with this big focus / little focus idea today. I am remembering that life is fleeting, largely out of control, and it’s good to let stuff go. What’s important is to love and care for those around us. We all need to feel supported, in the best of times. That support seems even more crucial now.

And hey – I’m writing again. It’s something I haven’t made space for in a very long time. If I can let it be, this gentleness with myself in a time of crisis seems to be Just What the Doctor Ordered.

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