We think that balance requires absolute stillness—in reality, it is constant, subtle movement that keeps it all from crashing down around us.
The ebb and flow of the last several months has left me acutely aware that sometimes, we just can’t prepare for life. If you had told me in January that:
- There will be a global pandemic that will require all of us to go into quarantine at home.
- Your quarantine will be almost full-time spent alone, because your husband is going to have to manage the giant task of wrapping up his father’s life, and it is going to take SO MUCH more time and energy than any of you expected. (And it will include SO MUCH more junk mail than anyone would have anticipated. Hello, International Fund to Save the Children/Veterans/Animals/Olympians/Firefighters…we see your souvenir blankets and jackets and calendars and coins…and sorry, but if there’s one thing this household does NOT need it’s more junk.)
- There will be opportunities that you can grab, made only possible in this time. IDENTIFY THEM, GRAB THEM, MAKE THEM WORK.
- It isn’t about you.
I wouldn’t have been any more able to prepare than I was as these things unfolded. Sometimes, you have to dive in (and I am NOT a diving type person!).
Most days, I feel a strange balance been time slowing down to reveal excruciating detail and time speeding up to make it impossible to take a breath. I shift from one foot to the other, teetering along, aware that for the first time in as long as I can remember there is no way to plan for the next moment. There are no expectations or guidelines to follow. So I stay in the present. I have no idea what will happen next.
It’s strangely familiar, in that way we were free as children when we had no control over the big picture and days stretched on forever as we lived each moment, making things up as we went.
I’m doing a lot of making things up as I go. I’m guessing that you are too.
This new balancing act is freeing: take your typically fully scheduled day and toss it out the window. What do you do when no-one is asking you to do “all the things”? Who are you when there’s no one to “perform” for?
I set aside the self-prescribed publication schedule for my blog—there just didn’t seem to be a way to write everything that was happening in a way that truly served the enormity of the changes and shifts taking place. How to describe the acrobatics my mind went through as my husband and I threw out the sketch for our “15-ish Year Life Plan” and said, there are no rules—what do we want to do NOW? Condensing that moment into a blog post doesn’t give it the gravity and respect that moment deserves.
How do you write about witnessing your husband as he manages the dismantling of his childhood home? Sitting there in the hot sun, as the end of a family’s era comes to a close right in front of you—there aren’t words that describe these emotions. You just witness, you sit in the moment and pay it respect. You put all the other things going on aside for that afternoon and focus. You grab your camera and capture the smile on his face as he works to clear the rubble and brings decades of chaos into order. You marvel at human resilience and thank the universe that you made the time to be there.
How do you handle the devastating feelings your friends share with you as their lives are affected by the quarantine as well? There is no advice. No prescription. No plan. You just listen. You just witness. You just spend the afternoon sharing funny memes and being with them.
Everything else will wait. In the grand scheme of things, the balance tips to the enormous moment, the heavy time needed—and all the activity, motion, and stuff we fill our lives with on other days is balanced at the other end. Everything else can wait.
If you told me in January that amidst all of this upheaval, in all of this turbulence and uncertainty, that I would find peace…I would have been unprepared for the discovery, I would have told you it made no sense.
But it makes perfect sense now.
Slow down. Take your time. Pay attention to your commitments and let go of what doesn’t serve you, let go of the things that are unwilling to sit in the balance on the days when the heavy things, the REAL things, need your attention. Let go of the people who show you that they are unwilling to let you wade through the deep times at your own pace—they will show you who they are if you pay attention. Let go of the urgency if it isn’t necessary—you will know if it is or is not.
You won’t be left behind in life if you spend the morning in your backyard, soaking up the sun. You’ll be right there in it, experiencing it, taking the moments as they come and giving them the attention and respect that they deserve.
Good luck, wild one. Your dreams are waiting.