Letter for Publication written in response to others who are sharing their feelings about living through this pandemic.
I was deeply moved by Carol’s willingness to share her honest and heartrending feelings about how this pandemic is affecting her, enough so that I decided to write about how I perceive the virus has impacted my life and the lives of those around me.
Here in my corner of the world summer is a time to be outdoors, and so returning to Maine in the early spring has allowed me to be emotionally present in a joyful way for Nature’s turnings, first from winter to spring, and then from spring to summer. But I am a naturalist and only too aware that my love for the wild is not shared by everyone.
Because I have no family, the longing to be with loved ones does not pierce my heart in the same way it does for others.
However, with emphysema I am also in the highest risk category. What this means practically is that I have to remain vigilant at all times.
Overall, my life has changed very little. I spend my days in the woods, or on the water, visit with neighbors and friends outdoors. The use of appropriate social distancing is respected during each of these encounters.
One other positive note is that when I walk to the pond (the only time I walk on a road) I notice that folks that once might not have the time for conversation often seem anxious to stop and talk.
I have also discovered the joys of using Zoom. I am participating in two virtual gatherings composed of women writers who meet regularly to share their feelings, experiences, and writing. I love being able to sit on the porch with my dogs in comfort, keeping a sharp eye on my birdfeeder and feasting on my flowers while exchanging ideas. I don’t even have to comb my hair!
On a practical level I have critical work that needs to be done on my house that is still pending in mid July, creating a very stressful situation for me. But I think my greatest challenge has been adjusting to living on the edge of ongoing uncertainty.
The kind of uncertainty I am referencing here involves learning how to incorporate ‘not knowing what the future will bring’ into my every day life in an embodied way for the foreseeable future. What I mean by embodiment is that I not only use my thought processes when thinking about the future but I extend my thinking to include and prioritize feeling, sensing, intuition – the latter three abilities reside in my body – all ways of knowing help me navigate the unknown and help me deal with personal fears. Too often we cut ourselves off at the neck with our thinking, crippling ourselves in the process. We too are animals that need access to all our senses to make truly informed decisions about our lives and the direction we need to take.
I am doing the best I can to work with my own issues while taking refuge in the present finding joy in simple things. I find that doing both helps keep me in some sort of balance. I do not judge myself on days when I feel depressed; I expect these moods to come and go.
I no longer know what ‘normal’ is, and I am not sure that going back to what we considered normal is either healthy or life affirming. The exception, of course, is that we all need access to our loved ones, and this virus has made visiting one another difficult or impossible. Most people also need to work, and this crisis is being exacerbated by starving people who have lost their jobs.
As a culture we are living on an edge that is unfamiliar and frightening. My hope and prayer for each and everyone of us is that we may find a way to bridge the past into a new future, one that is life affirming, based on compassion and love of all human and non human species alike. May we continue to develop personal integrity, and begin to celebrate diversity on a level that we have not been willing to do before.
This virus, which threatens the life of our human bodies, can be viewed as an opportunity to embrace changes that will allow us to heal our broken connection to the body of nature so that we can begin to solve the human problems that have created this pandemic in the first place.
It is up to us as individuals to make the choice to walk through that door.