Three Things in Uncertain Times
by Cindy Coughlin
I have a reoccurring dream that can best be described as a loss of control. The dreams always vary, but the theme is the same. The last one, a few months ago, had me in an airport trying to check-in, get through security and get to my gate. At check-in I can’t find my ticket or passport. I’m dropping things, I can’t seem to get my shit together. I am trying to convince the agent that I just had all of my documents and suddenly they are gone. Flash forward (dreams are weird) and suddenly I am through security and now heading to my gate. Only, I cannot find my gate. I am horribly lost and I cannot figure out how to get to the gate. I never do make it and I miss my flight. I wake up, flustered and relieved it was a dream.
I feel like I’m living this dream right now. I feel unsettled. I am not sure how to problem solve this crisis. I feel a total loss of control. Someone shared that this is a “loss of certainty”. That makes sense – the certain world has been up-ended. Uncertainty is the prevailing wind. And this is no whirlwind, this is more like a typhoon-wind.
So, when a storm hits, what do I do? I batten down the hatches. I hunker down. I ride it out. I do what I can to get through it. The storm has the control. Not me. I’m at its mercy. And inside this particular storm right now, where can I find an iota of calm, a tiny piece of control? What can I focus my energy on? What can I hang onto?
It turns out, a lot. I’ve got my wonderful husband who is positive and supportive. I have my dog who is clueless to the typhoon and lives in the moment – I love this so much about her. I have my friends and family who I can connect with through technology (did I hear recently that technology is fueling disconnection – well who’s laughing now – technology, I’d say). I have food – enough to last weeks if needed. I have music. I have movies. I have books. I have a comfy bed. I have a view of the mountains. I have birds singing outside my window. I have a caring community helping each other out. I have puzzles. I have a yoga mat. I have plants. I have my guitar. There is a lot to hang onto.
And to process this wild world right now, I also get to continue to write, so that is fun! And I came up with three things that have revealed themselves to me over the past few weeks:
Belly laugh until you pee: I realize I’ve been taking life way too seriously. When the poop hit the fan with COVID, I found myself laughing way more. And laughter feels good, really freakin’ good. I love that people are creative and clever to find humour in elements of this storm. I love that they share their humour and I love that I am laughing every day. Every. Day. I wasn’t laughing every day two weeks ago. I am now. And I want more. Looking for a laugh? Try Ellen De Generes on the insta. Or Pluto_Living on the facebook. OR the fun, silly made up song lyrics on the tube. If you are one of my friends making me laugh – Thank you. So, I know the laughter feels good and now my question is how do I shift to ensure I’m finding laughter every day when this crisis is over? How can I let go of my seriousness and allow for more lightness, playfulness into my life? Cuz you know, the stuff I was super serious about, just doesn’t need to be taken so seriously. Seriously.
WW II: Is it weird that I can’t stop thinking about World War II? This might be about perspective taking. I saw a post that said something along the lines of “people, during the war, lived in 4 x 4 sq ft rooms, hid for their lives, with very little food and all of their possessions taken away from them – we can handle staying inside, sitting on the couch”. That statement hit me. Yes, this is a bad time. Yes, this is very hard and scary. Elizabeth Gilbert shared on the insta the other day that despite our (humans) deep resistance to change, we are incredibly resilient and adaptable – like super duper adaptable. What is being asked of me right now (physical distancing, taking care of our most vulnerable etc) is actually very doable. Is it a nuisance, sure, but one I am fully able and willing to do for the sake of my community, my family, my friends. And my head is not completely buried in the sand, I know there will be a big fall out of this crisis. Maybe it is the worst recession we’ve ever seen, maybe it will divide more people before it unites, maybe our biggest hopes and dreams are not realized and worse of all, maybe we lose loved ones. And I will get through it. Changed? I sure the hell hope so. There is learning in this entire experience. I hope I learn something and make a shift in my life as a result – for the better.
Wu Wei: Remember a blog from a while back when I wrote about Wu Wei? A Taoism roughly translating to effortless action. I talk about releasing the tight grip – keep in motion – but allowing for things to unfold, to happen in a more effortless or natural way. Wu Wei right now is a letting go of my tight grip on the dreams in the exact way I was dreaming them. The dreams are still there, but I need to stop pushing, step back and settle into how these dreams may unfold in this new time. Dreaming is hope, so I am not giving up on the dreams I had as that would be giving up on hope. Instead, how can I look at my dreams and goals differently? How can I loosen my tight hold on a concrete plan and allow for what may unfold? Wu Wei, that part around letting go, is also about letting emotions go right now – not supressing them but letting them move through me and out. Lots of really heavy, scary things have happened over the past few weeks and I found myself crying almost every day – which has not happened since my Mom passed away a few years ago. I’m trying to allow for these emotions to work their way through me and out of me. And then I follow up the tears with a mini dance party – another great way to Wu Wei is to dance. Put on your favorite tune. Crank it really loud. Stand up. Wiggle your hips. Throw your arms in the air. Jiggle your jiggly bits. It does not matter what you look like, shake what your momma gave you and dance the shit out of this crisis.
“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members” ~ Gandhi