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Valleys and Mountains

I don’t know how everyone else is doing out there but I think I have hit bottom. The coronavirus has not taken me out with its contagion but it seems to have taken me out in spirit. And the global protests regarding the murder of George Floyd were the final push off of the cliff headed toward bottom. My hitting bottom became clear to me at dinner the other night when I ate a little bit of sour cream left on my plate with a spoon. Pre-sour cream, there were other clues that I was approaching bottom. For example, my hair has been in a topknot nearly since the lockdown began. My roots are not to be discussed. Pyjamas are now considered formal wear and the big decision on any given day is whether or not to take an army shower. You know quick soap, quick rinse, right back into pyjamas I go. On the days when an army shower does in fact happen, I’m then pretty much done for the rest of the day. That shower is like the main event.

I have not started day drinking yet though I have seriously considered it. I have been carb loading like I’m triathlon training (spoiler alert: I’m not) and I’m freebasing more television than I ever thought possible. I am doing some writing (this blog is a testament to that fact) but I have not written a great novel or even a good short story. Reading ten pages from a book let alone a whole one is now considered a major accomplishment. I haven’t learned a new language. I haven’t purged, reorganized or decluttered a thing. I haven’t put photos from my July 2019 trip to Iceland in the album I bought last December. The online Happiness Psychology course I signed up for was a bust at the week one mark and I’d prefer not to discuss the virtual training I signed up for through my gym. Put it this way, since week one of that training, where I was using soup cans as weights, I have eaten all the soup and replacement weights have yet to be found.

Now, according to the Prime Minister and Dr. Theresa Tam, I am doing my job. I am serving my country. Basically, I am a war hero. And I’m trying to remind myself that it’s not the doing but rather the being that determines how truly broken or not we are and, as far as the being goes, upon closer inspection, that appears to be remaining more or less intact. I am certainly calmer and not nearly as rushed or as frantic as I usually am. There’s a presence that I feel more acutely now, and while I know it is always there, I don’t always take the time to observe it. That all being said, I definitely do also feel low sometimes. I feel hopeless and helpless about the state of the world and, sometimes, I feel scared and trapped. I’d like to go out in the world, or, hell, even down the hall from my condo to my Moms without feeling like I’m in a video game dodging unseen virus droplets and potential carriers everywhere I go. I’d like to know when there may be even some degree of normalcy. And while I’d like to know those answers, I also know that they are impossible questions.

Right now, like many of us are, I’m deep in the valley. There’s nowhere else to go really and it was starting to trouble me until I realized that I can either lie down in the valley, look up, relax and enjoy being there (emphasis on being) or I can resist it, feel like a caged bird and think what I think on a typical day which is that there’s something more I ought to be doing when, again, like on a typical day, there is not. I was lamenting these things to a friend the other day and said that I better shut my piehole and keep my perspective. I have a home, food, friends and family I can stay connected to and I have time; the time I complain I never have. And that time, that gift we have all been given in the most unfortunate of circumstances, is allowing for plenty of being and far less doing. It’s been a pretty radical shift that caused dissonance and it was that dissonance, that skewed perspective, that caused me to think I had hit bottom.

Sure I ought to reconsider my hairstyle and what now passes for formal dress. Perhaps I also need to consider a new set of weights (condiment or water bottles? The eternal question). Those considerations will all come in time but for right now, as that cognitive gap is closing, and, as I am starting to really shift perspective, I am seeing that all I’ve really been doing is not in fact nothing. In fact it is everything as I have been leaning pretty hard into being rather than doing and have, for the most part, been pretty okay with it. Again, some low times for sure but a human being, any human being who is really living, will experience both being okay and not being okay. It turns out that when you really stop doing and you really start being; when you lay down in the valley instead of trying to summit to the top of a mountainous, unknowable future, and you look up, really look up, the view from the bottom, is incredibly delightful. There is blue sky above with wispy white clouds, greenery all around and a valley floor that is plush and soft and comforting. So, for now, I’m going to take my topknot and my pyjamas and just lie here and heal for a while as the planet heals too because there could be no greater delight than a healed world full of beings that are healed too.

Originally published at on April 14, 2020.

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I write about what affects our lives. Thoughts we have, questions we raise and ways in which we can grow and, hopefully, become better so we can do better.

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