"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.” ~ e.e. cummings
It’s taken me many years to accept that being “myself” is both weird and wonderful – sometimes alternately, sometimes simultaneously. I have led a richly varied life, mostly following my heart and with gratitude, doing what I love to do – with passion and purpose. I see that as an incredibly precious gift!
My life path has lurched from incredible “peak” highs to seemingly bottomless lows, like a drunken manic depressive sailor – and with occasional accompanying colorful language to match.
For today’s example of pandemic weirdness, I awoke convinced that it was Sunday. I went about my morning tasks, thinking about setting up a zoom session to “go” to church, when my husband pointed out that he would attend tomorrow, when it actually was Sunday. Or will be. Pandemic time warp strikes again! I think this is the single most disorienting thing about the pandemic: the feeling of time warp, almost being “separate” from and outside of time. It’s become very elastic – and fluid, changing day to day and moment to moment as to how I experience it. Sometimes it is fleeting and flying, others it’s like dragging around a giant boulder – heavy and slow. Anyone else finding this to be true?
I am trying my best to use this unprecedented time of pandemic confinement as a gift to explore my inner self: to meditate, read, write, take tours of memory lane through photos albums, scrapbooks, re-reading journals, recalling just who I have been and hopefully informing who I will be going forward on life’s evolving journey.
I recently rekindled a love affair with the work of author Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) in her book, The Vein of Gold. It calls for using tools such as Morning Pages (three pages of long hand, stream-of-consciousness writing to dump out all the mental minutia and clear the brain), Artist Dates (priming the creative pump with art, beauty, nature, by oneself), daily walks in nature and also creative play via arts and crafts to reconnect with and heal the inner child and strengthen our Divine spiritual lifeline. My inner child likes to play and I am finding it so enjoyable to regain this part of my life!
Remembering past achievements, experiences, joys and sorrows has been very heart-opening for me – particularly through photos and my journals. I have found many life stories that I need to share with whoever can enjoy/benefit – but mainly because my inner writer is clamoring to break out. If not now, when?? This prolonged self-isolation with very little distraction is a perfect opportunity for this kind of introspection, integration, healing and creativity. Now, if I could just remember what day of the week it is without resorting to buying the cute childhood solution of days-of-the-week underwear! OK, the adult solution is checking my cell phone or computer. But, therein lies a dangerous distraction. Before I can form my own thoughts about the day, I am bombarded with news, politics, tips, opinions, pandemic updates…well, you get the idea. I have had to limit my exposure to news media (a really difficult task in the age of being electronically tethered 24/7/365)!
I have spent some time updating social media profiles, posting pictures of places I’ve lived, and doing a nostalgic post honoring my Dad. So now I am taking on the estimable task of taming monkey mind, which is usually swinging from branch to branch in my brain each time I try to meditate. Sometimes, the best I can accomplish is to slow the monkey down a bit.
I often feel things too deeply, acutely aware of the pain so many thousands or perhaps millions of people are enduring. My nerves feel scrubbed raw (like my hands are in actuality, thanks to almost obsessive washing and sanitizing -- of me and my home.) So, how to deal with the incredible angst, uncertainty and unprecedented nuttiness of this time? My answer is multi-faceted: Music (listening and singing), heart-to-heart conversations with friends, photography, yoga with meditation and deep breathing, being bathed in my cat's soothing purring and warm cuddly presence, reading, praying, spending time outside in nature, writing, sunbathing.
Do I manage to achieve deep peace and calm every day? Well, refer to the sailor-like language mentioned above. Sometimes I am not myself. As if someone else took up residence in this skin while I was sleeping. No, not loony-tunes, just being human and feeling what I'm feeling.
I would love to hear how you are coping. What helps without hurting (some escapism is self-sabotage in reality). I know this from direct experience! What are your experiences of this pandemic time?
My two feline companions, Samantha and Patches, pictured below: