A friend commented yesterday that this time is like a wild roller coaster ride.


Obsessively, I watch the John Hopkins virus resource center through out the day. Today, the worldwide total confirmed cases will reach one million with 50,000 dead. I stare at the numbers.

I have written for a post every day. I draft and leave it for awhile as is my usual process. By the time I get back to the draft a few hours later, even a few minutes later, I am in a completely different head space. Mind and soul seem to have climbed another mountain or fallen down another well. And it does not seem possible to edit to reflect where I’ve been or where I’ve gotten to.

Tuesday began in a pit of self-pity. I wrote that all I could do was to keep us together, bodies with souls; food, shelter, clothing; meals on the table; reminders for walks, cleaning up and doing work. All bars lowered—so low to the ground that even tripping over them is impossible.

And then I had a zoom call with Sylvia in Italy and another with my creative group. It did my heart well to see my friend’s face and then to trade status with my creative group. The whole cloth of self-pity frayed around the edges.

We’ve had good and bad days with good outnumbering bad. I count that a victory. A planned change in Julia’s meds has happened during quarantine and not during school. The result is good for home.

Cheshire sent me a list of Mental Health Wellness Tips for Quarantine put together by a psychologist. Of the list of 25 tips, instinctively I’ve been doing at least ten or so. I’ve promised myself to review the list often and see what I can add.

We get up and get dressed every morning. I shower most days; Julia takes baths, a luxury that is usually reserved for weekends. Why not? Baths are 20 minutes longer than showers. We have the time. I stick to a relatively regular schedule. We dress as if we are going to go outside and living our lives. We haven’t really discussed this but a weekend-like pj day/days would make me feel pretty sad. No judgment on others. I wear my softest clothes.

I watched a video on how to look the best on video calls. The instructor, “a professional blogger,” gave tips on camera angle, light, background, clothes, makeup, hair. I haven’t made any change in my video appearance. Stubbornly, in open deviance to who I don’t know, I insist on sitting across my big leather chair—back against one arm and legs thrown over the opposite arm—with an awful camera angle and less than optimal light. The camera angle gives me at least two extra chins and the light paints deep circles under my eyes.

This morning Julia asked if we could bake again—chocolate chip cookies this time. We are running out of peanut butter cookies from last week. She asked to do it on Saturday. Has that become our baking day?

Also this morning, as we put together our very loose schedule of the day—really a list of suggested activities, Julia asked that we meditate first. Fifteen minutes, guided with Tara Brach. We’ve chosen mostly guided meditations about stress and anxiety; today we did a metta meditation called loving this life. It was a very nice theme for the day.

And it is the way I feel today. This extraordinary novel set of circumstances feels much more normal. I don’t feel as much of the dread of each day as. I leave my bed. I don’t wake up with as much fear in the middle of the night.

And then, an English zoom meet up.

I was anxious about the beginnings of school last week. Julia had her own anxiety. Julia and I had worked out projects that we were interested in or that I thought I could teach. Those plans have been modified as teachers try out online interaction with students. Our anxiety over change and expectations rose and fell. Next week, school will start in earnest. At the English meet up, I can see Julia’s anxiety rise. Teachers are stressing how the experience is an evolving process and that students are expected to spend 3.5 hours a day on school. I feel my anxiety level rise. My immediate reaction is that I don’t want to spend 3.5 hours at school a day. I don’t want to teach/tutor physics. I wonder where the support will come from.

My white knuckles grip the front bar of our roller coaster car. My reactive negativity almost surprises me.

Julia gets off her zoom call. Walk or physics, I ask. Physics and then free time, she answers. Are we both taking deep breaths? Impermanence is the lesson over and over.

2 thoughts on “lessons

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I think this is where so many of us are. On the roller coaster. Stay strong, reach out, talk to anyone when you feel lonely, and we will make it through to the other side. One day we will be able to walk out into the sun and lift our faces and take that huge breath of air as if we have done nothing but hold our breath this whole time, and let the relief wash over us. It will come, it will just take time.

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