What We Missed In “The Rona”

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Charlie the dog on a dusky summer night

The other night I was sitting out on my balcony. It was a dusky and soft summer night. Outdoor candles swayed in the gentle breeze filling the air with the scent of lavender. The firfelies danced and the cricket sang. The fairy lights in my planter boxes twinkled and glowed. Folklore played softly in the background. Ice slowly melted in my drink while Charlie the dog was there enjoying a wondrous moment of Zen. It was a moment of heaven right here on Earth; the same Earth where pandemics and protests rage on. I was unspeakably happy.

My Mom was over joining me for a drink and some silence which was, of course, punctuated by me. I looked at her and said, “even if things were ever to go back to normal, I don’t know that they will go back to normal for me and I don’t know that I would want them to. I feel like I am going to be a little afraid of the world; a little hesitant. At least in some ways.’. My Mom didn’t have a lot to say about what I had said just some words of agreement and affirmation. It was a moment that should have made me sad, but, it didn’t. I suppose because the truth isn’t a sad thing, it’s just true. Totally neutral.

Of course, I don’t really know how I will feel when all of this is said and done. I might feel as I did before, but, in a lot of ways I really hope that I don’t. I hope that I don’t because that would suggest an absence of alchemy. A resistance to letting the world do its work. It’s important and necessary to change. Always, but, certainly having survived a pandemic. It would say more about me and my willingness, or lack thereof, to change if I didn’t let the experience change me somehow. And it has changed me, I know it and I can feel it. In some ways I have consented to the changes and in other ways I simply surrendered as that was all I could do. Drop to my knees and let the world reshape me. Yet any of those changes, those consented to and those surrendered to, will only be a detriment to me based on what I choose to do and to learn from them.

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t feel sad when I confessed what I did to my Mother. I didn’t because some change is good, healthy and necessary if properly tempered. Of course, I don’t wish to become an anxiety ridden agoraphobic bunny rabbit, nobody does, but developing some prudence, some restraint, some appropriate caution…..probably not a bad thing for a pretty fearless, live with abandon, hit first and ask questions later bunny rabbit. The kind of bunny rabbit who was — rightly — once told by a friend that had she not been born requiring a wheelchair she probably would have ended up in one. That was, and remains, an accurate statement but only one hundred percent of the time. Hopefully though, this Velveteen Rabbit is becoming realer and realer by the second.

I moved through the world fast. A lot of energy, speed and excitement. A ball of energy that likes to go somewhere and do something to create, to learn, to explore and to satisfy a seemingly insatiable curiosity and desire to learn. I don’t intend to lose those parts of myself, but, I do plan to lose the warp speed. I do plan to lose the tendency to do everything fast, now, at once. I do plan to lose my fear of missing things. I do because, again, I am changed. This time has forced me to miss many things I thought I would and, it turns out, I miss very little.

The other week I went to get my haircut (a real gray haired Rapunzel situation was developing over here). After it was all said and done, I joked with my friends that I took three inches off of my hair and years off of my life so stressful was the run up to the experience. Nevertheless, as in everything, there was a lesson. The woman cutting my hair said that when all of this was over she was going to ask herself the question “what have I missed” and whatever answers came up for her were the things she was going to focus on. She anticipated the list being very short.

I have thought a lot about that question since that haircut and, like my stylist, the list is very short. I still have my home so I don’t miss it. Charlie the dog is permanently underfoot so, thankfully, no chance to miss him. My Mom is a few steps away. I am in regular contact, either through socially distant visits or some digital means, with those I love most in the world. I miss hugging them and their being in my home but we’ll get there eventually. I have books and scores of entertainment options. I have the outdoors and fresh air and can go sit near water and take walks through parks or drives in the country. I have fairy lights and cocktail options. Life is overall good and, as it turns out, I don’t miss frequenting restaurants, pubs, cafes, patios, shopping (my credit card is missing nothing either) and the like, but, I sure as hell miss the option of doing those things. I miss every move not feeling like a military operation replete with an undercurrent of anxiety and fear. Oh, and travelling. I actually really, really do miss travelling, especially in the summer.

This enforced stillness though, with its long stretches of silence and solitude, have been, without my even really realizing it until recently, a long form of meditation. I thought I was struggling to meditate without realizing, ‘joke’s on you sucker; the Universe is teaching you to meditate right now!’. And what a lesson it has been so far. It has brought me to the depths and given me the opportunity to really and truly take care of my emotional needs for the first time in my nearly forty years and to seek help in new ways. I have tended my emotional garden before but not with such time, care or profundity, it’s been a gift I’m slowly unwrapping.

So, what has been missed in “The Rona”? As it turns out, not much of what really, at the end of the day, matters. “The Rona” has certainly delivered moments of heartache and moments of true joy, like the one out on my patio. Moments that will, hopefully, help me, and all of us, to land, ultimately, somewhere in the middle. A place of equanimity versus speed; pleasure versus pressure and less doing and more being. I will always want to do, it’s just in my nature, but I want to do more from a place of being more; a place of greater stillness; greater quiet and contemplation. So, Happy Birthday to this Peter Pan who may just be finally growing up. Not too grown up but, hopefully, just enough.

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