Heartbreak's Demand: Now is the Time
How we navigate our heartbreak will determine our experience of this crisis.
We all begin somewhere. And that place becomes defined as home.
In a time of global pandemic and local lock down, we have no choice but to reside in whatever place we find ourselves that we can call home.
For many of us, we are fortunate in our location and have a beautiful home to be in. For many of us, we are dissatisfied with the place we have, but it’s good enough. For still many more, we have no safe place to be, and we rely on the support and kindness of strangers.
It is a time of global heart-ache. Who has taught us how to navigate such a tremulously corrugated emotional landscape?
We have no option now, we must stay home–for the sake of our own health and safety, and the health of our communities.
For many, it is a time of financial panic. The hospitality industry, I am told, is going to be irreparably damaged from this crisis. All non-essential workers must now learn how to do that elusively sought-after thing and work from home. All parents who can’t work now are on as full-time teachers to their children.
I’m in that last category. My husband ironically started a new job this week, and though he can work from home, he is in a much-needed position for his new organization and is very much on with work. This leaves me as the on parent. I must suddenly learn how to mother (yes, it’s a verb) 12 hours a day, every day, without any sense of an end-point.
This personal earthquake may sound quaint to you. It may sound very fortunate. It may sound delightful, even joyful. And sure, it has all of those qualities. We live rurally, we have space, we can play inside and outside–albeit in nearly a foot of new-fallen spring snow–and we’re good at being creative and not relying on screens to get us by.
The adjustment into this new “teacher” role has been earth shattering and devastating to me.
Wasn’t it just two weeks ago that I wrote and published an article about how I have this vast vision and I’m tired of people telling me I can’t do it all?! My two businesses have had to nearly cease operations during this pandemic. I could work every early morning and every evening, but frankly, so far, I’ve been too exhausted.
Full-time parenting two small, very energetic, demanding, creative, intelligent, strong willed and engaged daughters 12+ hours every single day without letup…is no joke, people.
I am having an identity crisis.
And, I’m sensitive to the pain that the world is experiencing right now.
Just last night, my personal dam broken and I sobbed for over an hour. It was good. Cleansing. Purifying. Helpful, and hard.
The natural disasters we are used to usually have an “event,” which then requires resilience in recovery. Those events tie communities together, there’s shared joy at survival and shared pain of devastation. Societies band together to repair and move on.
But COVID-19 has a vastly different flavor. This is not just a one-off event. This is a rocketing cascade of shut-downs. The numbers jump every day.
No longer can I say that the pandemic has touched my life because a meeting was canceled due to fear. No, now the pandemic has touched me because not only am I home and on perpetual duty with my children, but I have close personal friends around the world whose lives have been affected by the pandemic. I know quite a few people sick. I have close family members who are serving those that are sick. I know people who are sick and stuck in isolation at home, without their spouse, without their child. And I’m too far away to make them soup.
The fear is so palpable, and it’s making things worse. Not being able to say a proper hello, let alone give someone a hug, is more than isolating, it’s an interruption to the age-old norm of human sustenance.
The very fabric of our society has become disrupted.
“I’ve been waiting and preparing for this my whole life,” says a rugged neighbor. But that’s not how everyone feels.
We didn’t listen properly, but in 2015, Bill Gates shared in his now-famous video, "There's no need to panic ... but we need to get going,” on preparing for the next viral outbreak.
I have many friends who suggest that coronavirus is Mother Earth’s way of getting humanity to finally wake up and smell the coffee. What we have created is not sustainable. How we are living is not in accord with the natural world. If we don’t listen now, what will it take to make us slow down and listen to our original mother?
So, in the end, which is still only a beginning, here 10 days into quarantine, the only thing I can do is endeavor to relax. The only thing I can do is strive to #createjoyanyway and celebrate all of my good fortunes.
I have my health. I have beautiful children. I have a gorgeous home. I have a husband who is working. I have connections with friends all over the world because of the weird world of social media. I have an online community that continues to grow. I have the occasional ability to get up early and write. I have been invited to speak a few times about how to stay sane and present with ourselves in this time of panic.
And I have to feel all the feels. We all do. Letting ourselves become familiar with heartbreak, well, it’s about time, isn’t it?
We are finally globally grieving. And we have to let it happen.
As all of us who have lost loved ones know, we have to just ride the waves.
As the Buddha taught us over 2500 years ago, we have all the tools we need to navigate this messy human existence.
And now, more than ever, is the time to harness those tools.
So please, wherever you are, however you are having to navigate this shared human crisis, don’t forget that there are billions of us sending our love out to one another. There are billions of us sharing the same pain, likely for the first time in human history.
So now, let’s use that. Let’s finally harness this shared pain so that we can create the society we all long for–one with kindness, understanding of our interconnection with the natural world, and the ability to re-design a human system that makes more sense for all involved.
If you are interested in helping me share this message, please do so. If you are interested in joining my online community, please do so–it’s free, and we were preparing for just this moment, it turns out.