It’s as if the world has taken a timeout, life is moving at a slower pace, yet it’s more complicated than ever. I do appreciate the opportunity to hear my own thoughts, but they’re imbued with so much anxiety, it’s both a blessing and a curse.
Have you ever found yourself entangled in this sticky web?
I would be so happy if…
I feel as if I’m flailing around in a viscid world while some hairy spider is bundling me up for a midnight snack. They call this “attack wrapping,” but it has nothing to do with Christmas (which is happening in 127 days people).
If only the air conditioner didn’t die, if only we weren’t in quarantine, and I didn’t have to teach remotely. What if there was no such thing as belly fat, insomnia, wildfires, or rolling blackouts for that matter? What if politics weren’t so polarizing and dust bunnies hopped away on their own? What if windshields didn’t crack, we never had to sit in traffic, and my toenails didn’t grow so fast? If only summer wasn’t coming to such an abrupt end and the air wasn’t filled with smoke? How is it possible that my entire social network is dependent on the stability of zoom? What if I never had to shave my legs, wear a bra, or miss my parents? What if I didn’t have spotty internet, or a spotty memory, and just one pair of jeans that wasn’t too tight. What if I knew how to take really great selfies and didn’t feel bad about my neck?
I would be so happy.
These are clearly first-world problems because we all know real issues have to do with access to clean water, food, shelter, medicine, housing, education, or just being treated with the dignity all humans deserve.
But I do live in a first-world country, we are in quarantine, and these are the thoughts that besiege me in the middle of the night.
I heard her bare feet running along the hardwood floors long before Sienna walked up to my bed at 2:00 am, as she snuggled against my chest I could hear her every breath. The room was shrouded in inky black darkness and my thoughts were running amuck.
If only I could hold my anxiety as gently as I hold this precious child, if I could put my worries to sleep, nestle them in the soft sheets?
I think people are craving routine right now, precisely because the world seems so on edge, so unpredictable says Rebecca Collins Jordan.
My regular readers will know, not only am I mildly irrational, but I’m sustained (sanctified is a better word) by my deeply embedded routines. I can’t imagine greeting the day without time to ponder, sip coffee in bed, and contemplate my options (which have become wildly egregious).
I’ve gotten into a routine of walking in the morning with my neighbor Sue, when the air is still crisp, and the demands of the day have not yet encroached on our sentience. Although recently we’ve had to step out at 6:30 am to avoid the heat and scheduled zoom calls which I consider unconscionable.
As you can tell, I’m a little cranky, but I don’t think anyone has noticed? I’m good at masking.
Rebecca Collins Jordan describes quarantine as forming our own “monastery.” You have no idea how I love this idea, I’m so in, if only my roommates would take a vow of silence? We’ve all laid claim to various spaces around the house and at any point in time there are no less than 3 zoom calls going on at once. It’s utterly confounding especially for people not skilled at blocking out random noises.
Jordan notes, “I have been so quick to work — to grade papers, to plan lessons, to find places that need donations, to clean, to wash my hands — and not as quick to pray.” Hum?
And what is prayer? Evocation, query, maybe time spent listening deeply to that evasive wisdom that gets lost in all the noise and bustle of life?
Or is it simply a way to connect with the unknown, the mysterious, the hallowed?
She’s clearly on to something. There have been many studies conducted on the efficacy of prayer, most are inconclusive, but I think they’re missing the point. I’ve always thought of prayer as an unmasking of sorts, opening ourselves to a higher power, exposing that raw, vulnerable, aspects of the self that need tending.
Shivanshu Srivastava notes “the sprouting of the seeds of creativity, intuition and wisdom takes place in a relaxed mind.”
Just like the right to vote (of which I’m celebrating my 100-year privilege), prayer is a powerful weapon of offense and defense, use it intelligently, conscientiously, responsibly.
This got me thinking about the masks we wear both physically and emotionally and the mountain of fallacies that they hide. Do you know what I mean? When I’m sad I often grab the mask where my lips form a smile but the facade I present is actually grounded in frustration, iniquity, despair.
Thinking about these things reminded me of Maya Angelou’s poem The Mask
We wear the mask that grins and lies.
It shades our cheeks and hides our eyes.
This debt we pay to human guile
With torn and bleeding hearts . . .
We smile and mouth the myriad subtleties.
Why should the world think otherwise
In counting all our tears and sighs.
Nay let them only see us while
We wear the mask.
We rarely become what we pretend to be, it’s usually the opposite, as the hidden parts seep out in various ways, and I sabotage myself for fear of letting others know my real pain. What’s that about?
The problem with masks is that the real issues leak out in unexpected ways, like grief that manifests as anger or blame, anxiety that presents as hypocritical or judgemental comportment?
I find it exceedingly difficult to recognize the real source of my angst at times and then I’m baffled by my display of emotions?
Emilie Autumn says, “perfume was first created to mask the stench of foul and offensive odors. Spices and bold flavorings were created to mask the taste of putrid and rotting meat. What then was music created for?
Was it to drown out the voices of others, or the voices within ourselves?
I think I know.”
Fighting this virus is like playing Whac-A-mole, we knock it down, and it just pops up somewhere else. This is our lives right now, like it or not, this space contains our ugliest and most beautiful moments, while affording us this unique opportunity to see our lives with new eyes. It’s okay if you need to swaddle your worries as if a frightened child, give yourself permission to slow down, take off your mask, and take a deep and abiding breath.
That is what’s hiding behind my mask today.
What have you been masking lately? What is the dominant emotion that is holding you hostage during this pandemic? Can you identify the actual source? I’m Living in the Gap, join me.
- “We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”