Those words I had wondered might come a bit easier after writing and posting last week about my loneliness – they are still hiding.
All week long I pondered what next? Thought I’d write a bit about shame as it’s another insidious dimension to loneliness and lethargy. Loneliness – the gap between the social connections we have and those we need – can activate shame. Shame – “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging” – finds a place to hang its hat when pandemic protocols combined with life circumstances invite in loneliness. But truthfully, I didn’t have quite enough gumption for this.
Then I considered writing about the extent to which living in the pandemic affects if, how we are able to hear into and respond to another’s words. An inquiry prompted both by responses to my post, and the sorrowful news of the death by suicide of a most remarkable, inspiring, loving individual. Again, no gumption to tackle this, though there is something in this worth musing.
What has emerged and is willing to be written about is the biggest insight I’ve had during these pandemic months: time. Over and over, I’ve realized that life takes its own time, and that this has absolutely nothing to do with me, my agenda, my plans, my schedule. An embodied lesson learned from the pressure I feel, which quickly becomes a felt sense of anxiety – butterflies in my gut, tightening in my head, irritability, and impatience – when I think I should be further along in whatever I’m doing. Whatever the thing, it’s not going fast enough nor co-operating to help me get through the list that I’ve imagined I’ll master for the day. I’ve excused that maybe it’s a function of age with things simply taking longer to do. But observing myself these past months, with nothing really urgent to attend to, not many places to go, I’ve come to know a deeper truth: that everything has its own organic timing. That it is, in fact, arrogant of me to insist myself onto and disrupt or override this innate “right timing.”
Thinking about this more, I wonder if this, together with so much shadowed grief and trauma, isn’t a root cause of systemic burnout – the constant overriding of the organic timing and flow of a “thing” by our arbitrary plans and deadlines. Like trying to cajole words out of hiding when they aren’t yet ready to be found. Or the imagining of myself working as I had known, when I hear a tender, quiet, inside voice say, “that time has passed.”
Standing on the edge of an eon’s old chasm.
How to maintain a precarious balance
as the winds of change blow soft,
then strong and stronger still?
How to keep the eyes softly focused
when the sight line is blurred,
the future unknown?
How to breathe deep and slow
into this present moment?
For it is what brings a steadiness
to stand with what is now.
It is only from this place
does one begin to see clearly,
can one begin to take the next step.