I just sent this text message: “This quarantine has me feeling okay, like everything is going to be okay, but also, like I’m not okay. But, actually, I’m okay.”
Everyone I talk to seems to feel simultaneously in a state of peace and acceptance, and also emotionally overwhelmed, hitting a wall. There has been a shift in how we are experiencing life and time because, after all these years of yoga, and mindfulness, and lessons on practicing presence, we have actually been forced into the present moment. How does life feel exactly NOW? How about NOW? Do we have food and toilet paper? What’s for dinner? Do we actually need to get haircuts? Why buy new clothes if we have nowhere to go? In a way there is no need to look beyond the day because, right now, that is all we have. And it’s good enough. It always has been, but it’s always been hard to remember.
And, of course this forced presence, is because, we don’t know what is coming next. There is nothing to plan for, nothing to strategize. This not knowing then gives rise to this secondary or accompanying emotion of total fear or dread around, the obvious—the pandemic, the economy, and how this will end up playing out for each of us. My stress used to come from planning and wanting things to work out a certain way, and now my stress comes from having nothing to plan for at all.
I also have this sense of guilt for my okayness, which I am sure is pervasive. If I am financially secure, am I just privileged (probably, yes). Have I checked my privilege? Have I done enough? And then there is this circular feeling of, but maybe I won’t be okay, maybe I am not as okay as I think I am. And maybe we all be suffering in equality. And this also makes me feel connected. Which is strange…
And I know, if I were going through these feelings alone it would make it worse, and yet, the fact that we are all confused and struggling, makes it painful, but then okay again. So, yes, today, I am actually okay. I’ve done my invoicing and I’m grateful for the projects I do have. I’ve cleaned my space, and I’m looking forward to that little patch of sun that always edges into my room in the late afternoon. I will have a few Zoom calls and later I know my parents will answer because they answer 99% of the time I call. I am reading two self-help books, two novels, and three textbooks. I still have some Ben and Jerry’s in the fridge. I am still here and writing, and able to open my windows to unseasonably warm air. I am really okay.
But, I am also afraid. And I miss my family. And I don’t know when I will be able to go home again. I am not sure how many more times I can wipe my daughter’s tears and reassure her that she will see her friends soon. My chest hurts when I think of the hospitals, food pantries, unemployment lines, prisons… how many are suffering right now. And what happens if… or when… and if I don’t stop, my mind wanders. I am actually very sad, and scared, but I know we all are. And I’m trying to be grateful for my okayness… even though I am not sure I am okay at all.