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April 12, 2020

The Messy, Lonely, Forced Awakening of a Pandemic.

Check out Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon
~

I’ve been on the fence about whether to write about our current circumstances.

As a writer, I want to be part of the evolving conversation that all these changes are bringing (as well as to curb a little of my FOMO). As a human, though, I want to be fully present for this moment without the pressure to capture something about it.

And this is definitely a moment that as an artist and a healer, I’ve come to the conclusion that some capturing is necessary—and, hopefully, helpful.

After several weeks of quarantine and some time to reflect, the world feels quiet. Those of us not on the frontlines of this fight (a huge wave of gratitude for all those who are) have been given a moment to pause—to ruminate, to process, to deepen, and to ponder.

Our addiction to unnecessary busyness, schedules, deadlines, and structure is getting an intervention. We are starting to realize all the ways we depend on one another and on the systems we have created. We are awakening to the fact that some of our time has been hijacked by activities or relationships that do not fulfill us—which can come as a shock.

What is broken or missing in our lives is most likely coming to the surface, and now there is not a gym, a library, a bar, or a sporting event we can escape to. We just have to be with it, look at it, and feel it fully—something uncomfortable for so many of us.

Dark nights of the soul provide us with the clarity we need for a new dawn. This is personal as well as universal. What isn’t working will eventually break, and what isn’t sustainable will eventually spill over. For a wound to heal, we have to get all the muck and dirt and disease out, even if it hurts.

As we all observe what this time has to teach us personally, we are most likely becoming clear on those parts of ourselves we have ignored, shamed, stuffed down, and tried to wish away. Now that many distractions aren’t available, our souls have a leg up on getting our attention.

Below are three ways we can honor ourselves and our souls going forward.

1. Honor the messy middle.

There is not a soul on Earth right now who knows what will happen next. We are literally flying by the seat of our pants, and everyone is in the same boat. Talk about being connected!

Maybe we’re trying to “use this time wisely” by tackling projects or starting a new business. Maybe the novelty of working from home is starting to wear off. Maybe we are plotting our next trip to the grocery store. Maybe we are so exhausted, overwhelmed, terrified, and depleted by the collective energy that all we can do is pull on the next clean (or not) pair of sweatpants and click “Next episode” on Netflix.

Wherever we are, it’s perfect.

Honor this time of chaos, confusion, uncertainty, and groundlessness. There truly is so much being revealed and uncovered. Remain open. There is deep, inner work happening. Trust this. And trust that all will be revealed when you are ready for the information.

Practice radical self-compassion at this time. Feelings come up to come out. Listen to them—especially if they are scary or uncomfortable. They are trying to get our attention.

Remember, too, that feelings have a 90-second shelf life—that’s it. If you allow yourself to sit and fully feel whatever is going on for you, it will pass. Feel it, cry it out, observe it without story or judgement, allow it to teach you something.

The messy middle is beautiful if we can loosen our grip on a desired outcome.

2. Honor the intimacy.

How often have we bemoaned that we don’t have enough time with our loved ones? Or, enough time with ourselves?

Time is the one thing we cannot get back. The older I get, the more this becomes true. When this has passed, there are many things we can replenish. Time is not one of them.

If you are alone through this, honor the intimacy of that. Our true selves lie underneath so much conditioning, socialization, responsibilities, goals, and habits. There are many things we don’t know or think to question. Maybe deep down we are terrified or daunted about opening that box.

Uncovering what we really want takes some guts. It also paves the way for eliminating personas or beliefs that don’t serve what our soul’s intention truly is—which also takes some guts. Leaving behind what is comfortable can be scary at first, but ultimately, it’s liberating.

Honor yourself by noticing and shining a light on what comes up for you.

If you are with someone through this, honor the intimacy of that—especially if they are getting on your nerves a little. What layers are being peeled back that you may not have paid attention to before? What are you learning about yourself as a partner or parent? Where are you afraid to be intimate or vulnerable? Why?

Many of us claim to want intimacy, but then run when the opportunity is placed in front of us. Honor what feels tender—it’s there for a reason and wants space to breathe.

3. Honor the slow.

The universe is not in a rush—we are.

It can be so scary to slow down, right? We carry the belief that if we slow down, something will most definitely catch up with us! Gasp!! What is this terrifying thing? Maybe it’s our past, or a bad decision, or perhaps we are terrified that if we slow down, we will feel something we really don’t want to feel. All the more reason to keep it moving.

Slowing down is not something we were taught. As trained future trippers, we are well-versed in rushing to the next moment without a thought. I know for me, I used to carry the belief that if I slowed down, I would miss something or miss out on something.

Now, most of us have no choice. Some of us might be starting to appreciate slowing down, realizing that time is the most precious commodity we have, and so, often, we squander it in ways that are not joyful or uplifting.

The slow is delicious, it’s enveloping. It allows us to notice. It clears away the debris.

As we slow down, we uncover parts of ourselves and of life that have the power to shift our perspectives and our values. We may stumble upon a lost passion or realize how much we have been sleep walking through our days. Slowing down can also reveal what’s hurting and what needs attention.

How we honor this moment, this new normal, and this awakening will support how we move through the world after this time has passed.

~

Thank you to all those people working to provide care and services during this time. You are very much appreciated and loved.

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