‘A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity:
An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.’
Sometimes words just don’t mean much when your life has fallen apart. There are no clichés powerful enough to make you feel better. Trivial platitudes don’t cut it when the soul lies lifeless and the heart is torn apart. We question life itself; what is the point of all the struggle and loss? It is in the understanding of why, why not, and how I deal in times of trouble, that I was forced to re-evalute, re-direct and re-adjust my life, over and over again.
Some of the scariest moments in my life, I willingly, or unwillingly, contributed to. They were partly of my making. Life came to easily to me, and when it all went wrong, after the outfall, I had to face up to some very hard facts – and how I was going to move forward from that point I thought I would never have the courage. Call it growing up. At my age. Call it facing the truth about oneself, but in all the darkness, like now, like the five stages of death, we are faced again with something out of our control, and rather than give into the wasteland, we need to see this as an opportunity to look deep, open the wounds, find the source and change what needs to be changed, to be ready when we can no longer blame the war, but take responsibility for how we are going to embrace what we find in the next step.
The Pandemic caught us all unaware. It may change, but for now, these are the 5 P’s that most account for my getting through this time, and I hope it helps you too.
Of course. Not at first, we sort of became numbed individuals as the reality of this illness arrived, like fog over an airport, and we are no longer able to carry on as normal. Orders to wash our hands, wear gloves and cough into our sleeves, that was all. Panic grew as the numbers of casualties and deaths increased – this was becoming something serious. Plans to stay at home, and get to the home we were going to stay in, for a little while … till it all blew over and the skies opened up again. Bad news became the norm, we really began to panic; about food, medical supplies, not seeing family and friends. Everything closed up – this becomes real, we are in seige mode. The war has begun and we are totally unequipped for the onslaught.
The level of panic remains for we have no cure. Anxiety leads to sleepless nights, frayed reactions. We are locked in, or locked out. Arguments happen, snapping at others increases, loss of freedom leads to cabin fever and not working, to listlessness. Initial banter and resilience wanes. WE are all pessimists, and rightly so – the enemy will not stand still.
Accept the panic, it still comes in waves, but this, for me, subsides as a hibernating bear. As long as I don’t prod or defy it, I can tred lightly.
Difficult. Being asked to. We are not a generation of small stuff. Big lives, bold moves. Time turns to water. Days to a dripping tap. We are in the shelter of hoarding and waiting. Obedient. The day before grows stale, as the jokes and memes and catching up with those you don’t really feel the need to anymore. Longing for those you do grows intense. In the pause, you are willing new things; the learning of a language for a country you cannot visit, the baking of food you have no taste for. Cleaning with vigour to find some order. Everything known to you looks different. Effort becomes the operative word. Elastic pants your friend. The Pause period, which we are still in right now, is one of letting go, be it willingly or not caring a damn, is dangerous. We begin to accept what we would never before. And we are tired, tired to the bone of expecting, of media, of all the horrendous reality of our state of being, outside the window, and inside our souls. The excitement of the pandemic affair, deflates very quickly.
Times I am so down, listening to myself breath is enough. The fog is everywhere still, but, and it is a lovely but, the eyes begin to focus of the small stuff. The heart flings aside the fluff and the mind … the mind is a mess, but its time for a spring clean. You have enough time now, no excuses and, oh my, the dust is everywhere, physically and spiritually, everywhere. Recognise that we have no choice but to pause, and in that pausing, recalibrate.
With time on my hands, and planes on the ground, I did the anger, and the wallowing, and the doing nothing in depression, and am facing the third stage. Like the levels we are being forced to live in now.
If you keep a gratitude dairy, you will understand the meaning of praise. Giving thanks for the good things in your life, for moments that mean so much, for others who contribute to your happiness. I don’t have a gratitude diary, more like an angst journal, but being alone in lockdown, the person I have to face, and give some praise to, is myself. Praise all those I love, they know that, and now it’s time to turn inward.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to praise yourself. Over, and over again. Whatever you think about being egotistical and rather be self depreciating, let it go. You are your own soldier here. The one going to walk out with, you. Gosh, you have made it this far, warts and all, with all the scars and the journey can only get better now. Strip the layers of negativity you wrap around yourself and now is the time to do it. Everyday.
It’s not about losing twenty pounds or running for office. Not about being prisoner to the past, or martyr to falling down. This is the time to be super honest, and super selfish. Praise in the time of pandemic of self love at her best. Be vulnerable, be honest and then be loving, and complimentary. You are amazing, and if you need a makeover to be phenomenal, now is the time.
Praise everything you have, and are. Everything you thought you needed and now don’t anymore. Praise simple aspects of your day; how you put on your make-up, change the sheets, fold the linen. Praise the messages you send, the kindness you exude, the ability to finish a crossword/puzzle and savour the way you taste your first sip of wine, toss the pasta – make is a slow, deliberate act of daily things that you do in your own special way. A compliment to you, your own dance.
To praise is to reflect and say … I am ok. I am not perfect, but I am no longer defined by others. When the lockdown ends, be sure of a few surprises … and if you are not alone, no need to share this pact with yourself. To go all the way to the inner most part of you, is the restoration and re-invention of the rest of your life. Question everything. You have the answers already.
This time would be such a waste if we did not plan for better.
Now that you have survived the initial wave, sat around watching the paint dry (or every series on Netflix) – now that you have taken stock of the things that make up your life, and your life itself, now is the time to plan. So often we follow a path in our lives established by environmental factors, or falling into patterns of place and people that we bump along, quite happily. Some are still on that road, happy and content. Some have found some bumps and fell into a ditch. There is nothing that truly dictates what we should and should not do. Just because you don’t come from a family of avid cooks, it is not too late to become a maestro chef, an artist, a journalist. So you have never lived alone, become a CEO of your own company, or even written a blog, but that should not stop you.
The universe has thrown the room quite open. Everything is up for grabs. I have always loved ‘The Invitation‘ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and thus I send it to you.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
Just saying – this takes courage, and it brings rewards. This is the time. Plan for a journey, a career, a whatever – yes even in My Silver Street time, and greatness is close.
Here is the most difficult lesson. The most difficult part. The follow through.
We will survive this Pandemic. We will be patient and go through all the stages. When it does end, will we perform? Take all we have been through and take centre stage in our lives, as we should?
I know I cannot go back.
Will meet you at the café of Life for the best coffee and the new stories of us.
Images: Youtube, Love this pic.