When the shit has already hit the fan, there’s not much to worry about anymore.
I’d like to do a study. How many people out there, who consider themselves to be content and calm individuals in their day-to-day life are freaking the fuck out right now? Now, how many people who are anxious 95% of the regular time, are actually finding that their anxiety/depressive tendencies have lessened now that we are in uncharted waters?
Now, I don’t want to piss you or the internet off by seeming cold and/or insensitive, and that is certainly not my intention, but after these past ten days of isolation, I have actually been finding myself feeling less anxious and (I hate to even say it) but rather liberated.
I feel terrible even admitting this as I know that the coronavirus is causing illness and death all over the world. Please don’t take my words as me saying that I don’t find sadness, frustration, disappointment, anger, and helplessness within this situation. I do. Believe me. I feel ALL the feelings right now.
But hear me out…I am one whose brain has a tornado of “what ifs” cycling at turbo speed most of my waking time. Most of the “what ifs” have to do with myself, my business, my family, my insecurities, my shortcomings, etc. I’m a worrier. That’s what I do. So, you would think that during a pandemic, I would be crazy with worry. I’m not.
Over the past week, I have been getting calmer and calmer.
Over the past week, as I’ve been getting calmer and calmer, and I have been thinking about why this is. Last Fall, I discussed that anxiety can be quite helpful in a crisis. Part of the reason is because when things are in chaos externally, my brain that normally cannot focus on every option that is spinning inside tends to slow down (or maybe outside has sped up and less contrast makes a clearer vision...I'm not sure). I can see all of the things that need to get done and act accordingly.
In this particular situation, that meant that I had the bulk of my grocery shopping done and I had weeks of frozen meals prepared about two weeks ago. In a crisis, I am definitely someone you want on your logistics team. This did not surprise me.
What did surprise me is the feeling of freedom that has been creeping in, especially within the past 5 days or so. It’s totally counter intuitive!!! During a quarantine, I feel free? I mean WTF is wrong with me? I’m coming to the understanding that there is nothing wrong with me. In fact, moments like these may be exactly what I was born for.
In a crisis, I am definitely someone you want on your logistics team.
Here is what I’ve discovered: Prior to this new reality, I worried about everything. I felt I was a failure in my day-to-day life, with few exceptions. I was constantly battling a negative internal dialog that told me I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t do enough, and that I would never be “successful”…whatever the hell that means, or meant...
Most of what that horrible voice in my head did was compare me to others, and definitely tied money to success, which I never seemed to have enough of. In that life, I always felt out of place. I always felt that what I was doing what just a little bit “off”. I questioned my ability to contribute to the world and I was filled with fear about EVERYTHING.
I’m still scared, don’t get me wrong, but here in this new reality, everyone is scared. No one is sure what this new reality means, how things will change, and what their roll might be within it. Financial situations that were once solid are now unsure. Job security is uncertain. In fact, the only thing that seems certain is that we are in for one hell of a shift. We just don’t know how big or to what extent that shift will manifest.
Here in this new reality, everyone is scared. Everyone is unsure. No one knows what will happen next.
Now, the rest of the world knows what it is like to live in my head. I’m comfortable with terror, because I live in it most of the time. I can relax in the chaos, because I have spent the past seven years learning to find the silver linings within it. I can find solace in cooking a bunch of food because I am used to finding solace in the small things that I can control. The rest, I just have to surrender to.
As you know, I love to surf. Part of the reason that I connect with surfing is because there is nothing like a wall of water barreling towards you to zap you into the present moment. In the past, I have referred to surfing as “jet fueled mindfulness”. When I’m in the water, I don’t think about my day-to-day worries that spin in my head all day long. All I know is that I have to take action in order to deal with the approaching wave.
That is why I feel comfortable in this new reality. We are all in an ocean of unknowingness. The one thing we seem to all agree on, is that there are more waves coming. I have not been thinking about this Summer, or next Fall. I have been thinking about today, and tomorrow. Just as when I’m surfing, I am being forced to live in the moment.
I can relax in the chaos, because I have spent the past seven years learning to find the silver linings within it.
The whole world has slowed down. We, for once, are all recognizing a global situation that effects all of our communities. We don’t know what will happen next and in fact, I’m not sure that our monkey brains can even process thinking about it.
We have reduced our need for control down to toilet paper, canned goods, and cleaning supplies. I believe that's why there is panic shopping. It's one thing that we can control.
I don’t feel alone or apart from everyone anymore. I don’t feel like my actions are at all “off”. I am certain in my abilities to plan forwardly, while living presently. For instance, I foresee that having a veggie garden may be very helpful in the future, and I know that to get started, I need only pick where that garden will be placed and bring in some soil and get some seeds. Step one, step two, step three…
The chronic worry in my brain that never turns off has quieted. The anticipation feeling of butterflies in my tummy is gone. It’s as if I was worrying for the entire world, and now the world has taken it over for me so I can be a source of strength and simply continue to DO. Today on my walk, I actually thought to myself, “This...this right here may be what I have been waiting for.”
Crazy, huh? I hope I don’t sound like some ignorant, myopic, insensitive person. It is definitely not my intention. I do think that this situation is going to bring up conflicting feelings for everyone. All I want to do in this moment, is honor them all.
Does any of this make sense to you? Has the pandemic created new feelings that maybe you’re unsure of? In the comments below, tell me one of those feelings.
I do feel deep in my heart of hearts, that we are going to be ok. That our community separation and isolation will only serve to, oddly, bring us closer together. That we will have a greater appreciation for each other and all of our talents, especially the ones that perhaps don’t get honored regularly enough.
I’ve never in my life been happy about my spinning hamster wheel, endless ticker tape of thought, tornado brain. Right now, I’m 100% grateful for myself, just as I am…and that may be a first.
I am also aware that I need to cherish this moment as I'm sure my perspective will be marred eventually. I'm also aware that I am blessed in this life to be able to have this perspective right now. I'm going to hold onto as long as I can and accept when it changes into whatever it will be next. Who knows? Maybe it will stick around a while.
The image at top is a detail from Derby Day, 12"x12", Mixed Media on Birch Board.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.