“Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away“
~ Alison Krauss
Yesterday was a bit of a dark day for me. Boy, they come they go, these days, with a life of their own. The irony being; it stood in stark contrast to the weather, which yesterday in Idaho was warm and blue. Ups and downs are in our nature now.
I’ve experienced such contrast in recent days. Two days ago was brisk and sunny. I had a hike with a friend. And not just any friend, but a friend who darn well could have died from Corona. She is still on supplemental oxygen. A hike? Yup. Her idea; I take no blame. Actually it was her need, for fresh air, and that was real. By regular measures, it’s a tame hike, but for two 50 somethings getting over Corona~well, not over it, but “over it!” you know what I mean~ it was a bit of push. “I used to run this when I was younger,” she said. You’re on oxygen, woman~you’ll run it again, just no time soon. We both had our moments. I with one little pin prick in the right lung which went as fast as it came, just a reminder to not let up all fear, because that’s what that beast of dat virus is; a bundle of inflammatory fear which settles into any vulnerable organ, in super varying degrees. That reminder alone is enough to take your breath away.
My friend was quite winded, to say the least, but ultimately energized by that which her body and soul have longed for in the last five weeks. From the bowels of the Covid-19 isolation department, she had craved one breath of fresh air, and life outside those four walls, so there was no complaining about getting too much fresh air. We probably went a bit too far, but it was important. Vitally so.
Corona is a virus of claustrophobia. A most frustrating part of post -Coronavirus is having to have a mental breakdown after having a physical one. (It just feels so pathetic.) And whether you have experienced the physical side of Corona or not, the anxiety is one of the worst aspects of it. This has been the experience of many friends with varying degrees of severity. No matter your exposure, even if it’s none, you’ve had a taste of this fear. Corona sucks the life out of you. Takes the wind out of your sails, physically and emotionally.
That brilliant brisk day, I also signed up for an online art class (essentially doodling around words, my school-days specialty.) I also helped teach a son to grill, and collaborated with family members with some other creative and productive ways to stay stimulated. It was a sanity-restoring day, much-needed and appreciated, reminding me of the need for creativity, connection and sunlight. I’m over the white din of my computer screen.
Later that same brilliant brisk day, a relative living alone dropped off a cake and had a ‘BYO’ glass of wine from a large outdoor distance, and then some outdoor fire pit camaraderie. Note: The point of my story is not to invite or defend scrutiny for this, something we are all experiencing these days, we can go there another day. (Be assured we were safe and conservative, and cleared by the state public health departments as well beyond our days of contagion.) But, I sure did enjoy physical presence and community, of which we’ve all been mostly deprived. It brought me joy. No actually, elation.
Flash forward a day ~to yesterday ~ the opposite mood floated in. The downside of the wine, perhaps. Maybe also the downside of being so cold for the last forty minutes of outdoor social distance communing the night before. I ‘d been desperate to be out, and determined not to get too close to people or the fire at our center.
The day after the brilliant day came a somber one. I woke yesterday with sneezes and a drippy throat. Grrrr. Frustrating to celebrate Corona recovery and take a small step away from full blown isolation, and toward your old life and get a bit of a cold. Double grr, I look like I’m contagious with something again. My lesson: tread lightly, and remain informed. I still lose sleep and get hungover from white wine and head colds from freezing my tail off. These tenets remain true for me.
All those default settings, those laws of our nature that were put on hold when the world came down with Corona, are still there. As are the complexities of life that we may have dropped at the door of our abodes a month or so ago.
I then had a morning conference call, reminding me of sobering realities that still need to be navigated. This was followed by several hours of a monthly meditation class which I am often “too busy” to attend. A wonderful offering that on a more challenging day afforded me the opportunity to dive deeper into my funk which somewhat sadly I did.
Dragged down by my head cold/hangover and a very blue mood, ironically as blue as the sky and the beautiful day outside, I drew the shades and went innerward for this lengthy call-in mediation class. As always, our teacher picked up on just exactly what we all needed, which was some serenity. We were led through chanting and listening and lots of quiet time for reflection and rest. It is a gift to be given space for time like that, and a wonderful form of self care to accept it.
After leading us through an almost trance inducing yoga nidra, our teacher asked us each to look around, inside or outside our windows and find beauty. Many on the call were in urban and suburban areas, some looking out at frozen April scape. They noticed the beginnings of buds on trees and small patches of tulips starting to poke their heads out.
I couldn’t manage to turn ‘my deep dive’ around into an exercise of seeing external beauty. Which is ironic since it was right in front of me. Outside the 12 foot glass sliding door with a sliver of curtain peeled back was brilliant sunshine, mountains and a 60 degree day. And yet, that’s not where I was; I was inside in a dark place, feeling it and honoring it and letting myself off the hook for not being able to muster the energy to shift gears. It was good to relax and just be, blue mood and all.
What I did notice was a fly, gliding up down the expanse of that sliding door, desperate to get out into the light. He skimmed up and down, back and forth, exhausting himself looking for an opening.
The truth is he would be back out there eventually, and he had everything he needed inside. Many open doors in the house assured his place of confinement was temporary. But, the knowledge that he couldn’t have it now, and the instinctual nature to press up against that which inhibits, overrode with his manic craze to get out. This resonated. Probably did with my napping dogs as well. I then wondered if our dog Wrigley was feeling scared, or blue about her turquoise tail, compliments of a teenage daughter, dye-ing of boredom.
“No one is left unscathed,”
The lesson, the meditation, I hope the truth of my weekend story, for me anyway, was to let it all be. A hopeful day, followed by a frustrated day, a dark day amidst brilliant sunshine ~ they are all ok. I am reminded I am capable of brilliant days in the clouds too. This time is temporary, and productive, if we let it just be. Buzzing, blue moods and all.
I feel gratitude for ‘the whole catastrophe’, as Jon Kabat-Zin puts it. I am learning a lot. I may have gotten the physical symptoms, but here’s what I don’t have for the first time in three years; a senior, a college search, ailing elderly to worry about, a house on the market, the list goes on and on of ways this can be bad, and is bad, for so many.
Whether physically strong and untouched by the virus itself, or sick as a dog, or grieving real heartbreaking loss, or all of the above, we are experiencing this virus and the conditions it has created. At best, it’s a crap shoot. But more likely you or someone you know and care for will suffer at one point. (If you’ve felt envy of the way the dice rolled recently, perhaps that your quarantine is not just a big hearty family bonding party, may I remind that No one is left unscathed by Covid-19.)
Soon enough we will be out of this place. Whether we are ready, or not. Like that fly, somehow when the time is right, we will find our way out of confinement. In the meantime, if we can be with all our fleeting moods, and the weather of our over burdened minds, we can rest assured this quiet time is productive. The challenge, and the opportunity, is to not go crazy trying.
“There Will Be an Answer, Let it Be“
~ The Beatles
Note: guess what was buzzing late night around my head last night? You got it– the fly. I got up, pulled back the curtain covering the already forgotten 12 foot glass door he had been so focused on and hoped he would recognize an opening when he saw it. He did, and took it, back out there into the starry night.
Here’s a meditation the I’m going to claim as a first. It’s the old ‘fly meditation’; you’ve hear of it, yes? Silence your phone and set your timer on your phone for 11 minutes. (Or no timer if you can trust yourself to stay seated for a bit of silence after listening to the recording.) In a comfortable position and with closed eyes, listen to the recording below (don’t worry it’s only 2 minutes, not an hour. Then sit quietly for 8 more minutes. And breathe comfortably. Enjoy the silence of a human being, not a frantic fly.