This morning, predawn, it’s warm and windy. Wind predominantly from the east but varying to all directions surrounds me. It blows unknown changes from every point of the compass. It’s exciting- –this morning. But a few days ago I wasn’t welcoming change and new possibilities. At all. As it turns out, after a year of remaking and continual adjustment, of cheer leading myself through restrictions and isolation, I’m well-adapted to living in the pandemic. Maybe too well-adapted.
You have been pretty moody this week.
Yeah. Sad moody.
Thanks for noticing, Lily and 9. It’s a good thing I have the two of you because for a few days I pretty much cut communication with everyone else. I just didn’t want to talk about how low I felt, not being able to see anything good on the horizon. It started last week when I was talking to a friend, someone I love hearing from who usually leaves me feeling encouraged and hopeful about making it through all of this.
What set off the downward spiral? It was when he was complimenting me on how well I’ve done this past year, staying fit and healthy and working on interesting projects. How I’ve made a good life in the midst of the dumpster fire we’re all experiencing. That, when all of this is over and we emerge on the other side, my life will explode into all kinds of wonderful new adventures.
That sounds positive.
Yes, Lily, you’d think so. But what I heard was a threat. Waves of resistance crashed through me. No, no more change! I am well-adapted to the incredibly difficult situation at hand! I’ve been strong and smart and worked hard this whole year, with a few miserable dips and black moments of despair but no one’s exempt from these in the current circumstances, right?
So my mind is saying No, No, No, and then he says if I want to follow through with some of the travel plans I’ve mentioned it would be a good time to book flights, etc., because the travel industry will go full throttle when more people are vaccinated and feeling confident about leaving home.
But you do want to go places, don’t you?
If you had asked me before last week’s conversation I would have said yes, 9. I have a folder with clippings of some US destinations, mostly in the west and related to my interest in astronomy. I dream of seeing Barcelona and the amazing architecture of Gaudi, and Italy and- -oh, lots of places. But considering these things as real possibilities terrified me!
No, No, No I thought, and I said to my friend, Wow, I think I’m really afraid for things to change. Better work on that.
Yesterday another friend messaged me, someone I’d finally reached out to and confided in about my terror at switching to the opportunities that will soon come, like (gasp!) eating in a restaurant or getting on an airplane. And what about all those used-to-be everyday things, like joining a contra dance group, that now feel taboo?
Telling her how I was feeling helped in and of itself and her reply nailed it. She’d heard a story very much like mine from another single female friend, someone she was impressed with for being strong and adapting well, for turning the restrictions into opportunities to make something new, to build a new life from the ashes. This admirable, capable, well-adapted woman was also feeling fearful of a freer, more promising future.
I’m thinking that both of us well-adapted individuals have worked so hard to make things work that we’ve come to identify ourselves as people who can prevail over circumstances that truly suck. Maybe we feel proud of “doing so well,” for having survived and even thrived in this crisis.
The future means change. The future means remaking ourselves, again, maybe on a larger scale than we imagined. Life is constantly changing but this past year the changes have been rapid and extreme. We’ve had to adapt, quickly. What we’ve done, all of us, is monumental. The changes we’ll need to make soon are also monumental. We’ll need to change again, radically, to craft how we live in the future.
Whew! Just thinking about it makes me tired!
Me too, Lily. But now that I’ve had a week to process my resistance and turn my emotions around to face what must be faced, my energy and resolve are trickling back.
I can imagine a future where I will be well-adapted.
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Oh, my gosh, I hear all this with my BAD ear! It made me wonder that part of the adjusting we’ve been asked to do involves waiting for another shoe to drop, and that the minute I let my guard down, we’re going to be directed into isolation and retreat again…disease, death, destruction may await at every turn! Ugh. My antidote is to ask myself to retreat from imaginings of any “future,” and try to stay present, where all the beauty and love in my life resides. Perhaps by the end of this (is there any such thing?), I will have actually mastered the trick! Love you, Susan.
Susan, thank you for putting it into words! Totally agree and will add that another of my problems is that I am trying so hard to be mindful of other folks and many of them, including some unnamed Governors who should know better, tell folks to go mask-less! Seems like the small mindful bit I am doing can be so easily undone by thoughtless masses and we can just spiral up in cases again and again. But your thoughtful words helped me personally. Stay well, and prosper! AND Spring Comes!! Eileen
I agree, Eileen, that it is hard to see our mindfulness and doing our bit squashed by thoughtless political actions by poor leaders and the thoughtless masses (great turn of phrase!) that fall under the spell not only of the speaker but of their own selfishness. So frustrating! AND Spring Comes is a good thought to hold. Wishing you health and prosperity, too.
Love you, too, Erin! You are so right to try to stay in the present, and there’s so much beauty at this time of year with plant life coming back after the cold. A friend of mine has compared this past year to our generation’s version of the London Blitz- -the big existential threat that we feel largely powerless to deter, yet are charged with “bucking up” and soldiering through it. You know it’s a brutal thing when so many war analogies are applied. . .If getting this under control means an annual vaccine, like regular flu, fine. It will be nice when “retreat” mode feels like too much caution. But not quite yet, thank you!
Beautiful, rich insight. Say it for me, too! Synchronistic, too. Last night, like most nights, my son and I watched Star Trek Voyager. Think: Mystery Science Theatre with a more serious commentary on themes of ethics, identity, existential challenge, and the sequelae of trauma. Last night the intrepid crew were faced with certain doom even more frequently than usual from multiple sources. Seven of Nine took a star turn of leadership and punctuated the dire dialog with the Borg’s practical wisdom: “We will adapt”. When I look at your byline photo and squint my eyes a little, I swear I can see the indomitable spirit of Seven of Nine residing within you and sharing the practical wisdom: even in better times, even in good times, “we will adapt”.
I just queried the character Seven of Nine. Thank you for broadening my cultural horizons, Tom! Yes, we will adapt (and hopefully when better times come will dance backward in heels because it would be a joy to channel the inner Ginger Rogers). I love the image of Father and Son MST! Thanks so much for reading, commenting and sharing.
I sometimes think that we’ve been forced to be so adaptable and flexible that we just want to go back to a normal, no surprises, no changes, no plan B existence. I would love a break from all the drama, ups and downs, constant rule changes and just have life happen without a lot of thought. Maintaining my focus on the here and now sometimes can calm my anxiety and also allows me to relax a bit, which in turn opens up my adventurous side once again.
You are so wise to focus on the here and now, Julene. The constant rule changes are truly a source of anxiety, and I think a lot of people have stopped listening so implementation is getting less effective. Breathe often, breathe deep! And, hopefully, we can all breathe together in the same room one day soon. . .
Coming out of this is your Blitz, your WWII…..you will feel good in the future and proud that given everything you have endured and the horrible timing with the loss of a loved one you made it…..now you just need to wait 6 more weeks for the vaccine
Thank you, Patrick, I look forward to that future! Sometimes six weeks seems an eternity; sometimes I feel like it’s an unreachable carrot on a mysterious vanishing stick. One foot plods forward at a time. I look forward to when the plodding transforms into dance!