Better

I’ve felt as if I’ve been vacillating between writing about finding our True Selves and navigating the pandemic of the coronavirus. But I’ve changed my mind.

Instead of seeing these as two separate things, I now see them as related. The coronavirus, although a challenge for lungs, benefits eyes. It’s helping us see.

We are seeing ourselves as a country, as a community, as a family and as an individual. I’m going to focus on that last one.

When you can’t go out the way you did, when you can’t be with people the way you were, you suddenly have more time with yourself. Even if you are homeschooling your kids, you have more time to see yourself.

And given the opportunity to be more present with ourselves, what do we do? According to liquor sales, we drink. According to Netflix and HBO, we binge-watch. According to our bathroom scales, we eat. According to Fitbit, we exercise less and sleep more.

Sheryl Sandberg writes and talks about ‘leaning in.’ In this unusual time, I think we need to ‘lean inward.’

We have to be willing to be with ourselves.

I have a little journal, small, the size of the flat of my hand. I have many journals but this one is special.

When I was in a cult, they told me what to believe. After the cult, I went to a marriage that told me what to believe. After leaving that marriage, I decided to make my own decisions about what I believed. I would gather those beliefs and keep them in a safe place, a place where they would be close at hand so I wouldn’t forget them.

I started my own Book of Beliefs.

A small brown journal, with many pages and an old map of the world on the cover

Perhaps this is heretical. I don’t know. All I know is that I had let others make so many decisions for me that I needed to start making my own decisions, including decisions about what I believed.

My little Book of Beliefs is where I write words I want to live by, such as these:

‘It doesn’t interest me where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children…. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.’

Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation

The coronavirus is asking us all if we like the company we keep in the empty moments.

What I’m finding is if I allow myself to feel the empty moment and lean inward, if I do not try to stuff the empty moment with food or Zoom calls or an entire season of anything in two days, the answer is, “Yes.”

And not only do I like the company I keep in the empty moments, I like the empty moments.

For a moment, I stop writing and focus on this moment. There is a pen in my hand and paper under my hand. Outside, a plastic bag has gotten caught in a tree and is puffed up like a beige balloon. I can hear the clock ticking and Leda cleaning herself.

If I have any encouragement to offer, it is to be willing to sit in the empty moment and to stay in the present in the empty moment.

The empty moment isn’t frightening if we let ourselves feel it. Trying to run away from it is exhausting. Stuffing it does not fill us.

I’m in a better place this week. No chocolate and reinstituting preventative measures have made all the difference. I feel happy.

Three other things were essential to my renewed state of wellbeing:

For getting my head in the right place around all this, a wonderful interview by Chris Anderson (TED founder) of Elizabeth Gilbert (TED legend+). There is so much wisdom and compassion in their conversation.

For releasing the anxious clench in my chest: this meditation by Sarah Blondin.

For feeling good throughout my day: planning my time—almost all my time (even eating time and turn out the lights time). Here’s my calendar for this week:

A fully scheduled appointment calendar, with blocks of time in yellow, blue and green

Last week was a good week and I hope this one will be a good week, too. I have good odds of making that happen if I focus not on the week, or the day, or the hour, or the minute, but the moment.


Chewing the Cud of Good

close-up of a greeting card, with a golden flying pig flying over dried violets

Thankful for time to make a card for a friend.

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