5.3 Editor's Pick
April 30, 2021

Back to Normal or a New Normal?—Where Do we Go From Here?

As Covid seems to drag on endlessly and our fatigue grows proportionately, I have made some concessions.

My forbidden activity list has gotten shorter, and my “things I love to do” list has gotten longer.

I’ve had both vaccines, and I wear a mask when out in the world. The one thing that has weighed heavy on my heart consistently in the days of quarantine was the lack of connection to my yoga community—it was eating a hole in my heart.

Last Saturday, I took myself to my yoga studio and practiced with three-dimensional human beings. I could hear them breathing on either side of me, and I could feel their energy. Tears of joy bubbled up inside of me, as I realized how deeply this was missing for me.

I took a hiatus from teaching, during the majority of quarantine, and just recently returned to teaching outside. When I started back, it was a sounding sigh of relief. I started to remember what my purpose was and how invigorating it was for my well-being. But practicing as a student, with other people, brought me to my knees. I felt whole for the first time in I can’t remember how long.

This morning, my favorite yoga teacher was telling us that it’s been a heavy week for her. Mind you, she is a “butterflies are free,” mantra chanting, seeker of flowers growing from cracks-in-the-sidewalk, kind of girl. Heavy weeks are not foreign to her, but they are notable. She greets them with wisdom and seeks to understand what they are meant to offer. She identified a fly in the room this morning as a welcome visitor just to give you an idea of who this goddess is.

Her dog has an abscess, and her daughter is sick. Sleep has been in short supply, and one can get delirious from the lack of it. She shared with us that she was out walking her dog with her daughter and they sat for a moment. She wrapped one arm around her dog and the other around her daughter, and drew them in close. Her brain wanted to ask, “How much worse can this get?” but her soul knew to ask, “How much better can this get?”

Whatever energy we send out into the world, is what we attract.

If we tell ourselves, “I don’t want to be sick,” the brain only hears sick, and that is what it attracts. If we say it in a different way, the message to this universe is altogether different. Instead, we might say, “I want to be well.” And that teeny tiny tweak tells a completely different story. Now the energy we are attracting is “well.”

The answer to the question, “How much better can this get?” creates a visual of a dog who feels frisky and stout, a daughter who feels healthy and strong, and in that same visual, mama bear feels like she hibernated for the entire winter. Adding details to what you are attracting leaves nothing to chance. Asking for what you want, rather than what you don’t want, is the magic.

I shared with the class that I feel like this Covid experience is a learning opportunity for everyone. How can we wrap our collective arms around each other and ask, “How much better can life get?” The first step is to be willing to wrap our arms around people who may have shown us parts of themselves we wish to unsee.

My favorite restaurant owner and I are as different as night and day when it comes to politics. I didn’t know that until the election of 2020. How would I? It’s a conversation we’d never had. There has been some ugliness, and it has changed the lens through which I see her. Yet, she is still that person who was always lovely to me when I patronized her establishment. So do I still eat her delicious food, or do I stand for what feels important to me and find a new favorite?

How do I forget her fangs once she shows them to me? Do I even want to? Am I actually willing to or able to for that matter? Do I want to wrap my arms around her, knowing what I now know, or better we just shake hands? It’s likely always been there; I just didn’t know that was part of the package. Would I have wanted to be friendly had I known she had supported things that turn my stomach? Should I ignore the part of her that feels like a red flag and just conduct business as usual?

I have neighbors who are salt of the earth human beings. They are the reason I will never move. During the 2020 election and the tension that it provoked, there were moments when we all showed our hand. I knew the cards they were holding and they had seen mine. We knew who to talk about what, with whom, and where.

Was I not supposed to stick my Biden/Harris sign in the ground in my own front yard? Was that disrespectful to them? My intention was not to be “in their face,” but rather to speak my truth—even if my voice was shaking. What if doing that offended them? Is that just tough noogies for them?

Was I not supposed to do the happy dance when my candidates won? They (collectively) had their party for four years. What’s the difference between my heartache when their guy was at the helm, and their bitterness when my leader stepped in to clean up the mess.? These are the questions I think we have to ask and answer as we attempt to “go back to normal. “The loudest question of all is, What exactly is normal?” Is it the same normal it always was or an entirely different version?

Did I delete friends on Facebook because I was repelled by their comments in the pre and post-election shenanigans? Yes, I did. These aren’t my inner circle folks, rather acquaintances to friendly connections. Will they be making a comeback or are they gone for good? I need to have a conversation with myself about that. Perhaps we all do. I remember the days when we talked about elections and blood pressures didn’t rise; when people didn’t try to steer the conversation in a different direction to save your ass from getting chewed up.

I rather liked not knowing where people stood on certain issues. I don’t have any friends who open a conversation with whether or not they are pro-choice or pro-being told what to do with their bodies. It’s a personal issue.

What I don’t understand is when did politics become so deeply personal and polarizing? Actually, I know exactly when and why, and I’m guessing you do too. Our leadership at the time (and I use the term loosely) counted on that division in order to achieve his agenda. It wasn’t a hidden agenda; we all knew who was calling the shots and why. He may as well have drawn that line himself; and in most ways, he did. Then we had to decide where to stand—ergo the animosity.

How do we wrap our arms around each other knowing what we now know? Are we still able to hold hands and sing kumbaya? Would a natural disaster pull us all out of our separate bunkers; they do tend to bring out the best in people. Hurricane season is coming, but I’d prefer not to tick Mother Nature off, so I’ll proceed with caution.

Should we try to forget the moments of opposition? Do we ignore that feeling in our gut or the tightness in our throat? Do we overlook or underlook? Do we set aside our judgment and recognize that these people are still the same people they were before 2020? But are they? Are any of us unchanged after the last year plus? Is it time to pull out the friends list and do some spring cleaning? Perhaps we want to wrap our arms around different people now. Was that a silver lining of this ordeal? These are questions that would be far easier to ignore because some of the answers are hard to swallow. I find myself choking on a few, so I take small bites and chew.

I live my life from a place of gratitude. In yoga, we practice Sun Salutations. They are a series of postures in which we connect with our breath to enhance our movement at the beginning of a practice. When we pray, we stand on our feet and thank the Sun gods for shining their light, which ultimately enables life to exist on Earth.

I will be grateful to be able to wrap my arms around the people in my life I feel more connected to as the opportunities present themselves. That’s a start, and I’m just going to have faith that the rest will come.

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