I don't miss traffic... but I do miss YOU!
I have been doing some serious reflecting. I feel a little like a seesaw in that some days I am up... and some days I am down. I know many of you can appreciate what I am saying. These are some scary, uncertain times right now, and boy do they have power over me and how I am feeling. Like the rest of you, I have good days and I have bad days, but each day leaves me pondering lessons and take-aways and I am thankful for that.
While my hours have been reduced and I only see patients two, sometimes three times a week, I find myself thinking the same thing as I head out each day; I am thankful to be working, and I don’t miss traffic. Driving has been pure joy for me; the roads are free and open, I get to my destination rather quickly, and when I arrive, I am relieved of the anxiety and stress traffic has brought me a million times before “this”. The same question repeats in my head, “when things go back to “normal” can we somehow find a way to keep “this”?”
I find myself equally filled with other emotions that feel darker and far less joyful; vulnerable, scared, lonely, sad, uncertain and sometimes angry. I feel like I have been deprived of my right to choose what I want to do, where I want to go and whom I get to do it with. I feel punished somehow, and there are days when my spirit is dulled and the shiny parts of me that want so badly to sparkle… don’t. Can’t. And that is where I see myself slowly fall. It takes everything I have some days to pull myself back up again.
I know I have it better than some; I do still work, I have a home I love being in, sharing space with a roommate I enjoy and respect immensely, and thanks to social media and modern technology I can reach out and almost touch all of the people I love.
But that is what I am struggling with most, not being able to touch or hug people, to share space and connect physically. I miss human touch, more than I thought was even possible. Because before this, it got to be my choice when I hugged someone or held their hand or brushed past them without fear. In many ways I think I almost took those moments for granted, I never truly realized how much that physical contact fueled me.
Because of what we are going through I have found new ways to "touch", especially with the work that I do. I have been able to find myself at the bedside, albeit it with a mask and gloves, still providing comfort and support. Sometimes I will say, "you can't see it right now, but I am smiling at you". I have found that slowly taking the hand of a patient, doesn't feel all that much differently when your hand is gloved. Touch is about intention, and what you are hoping to achieve by it. Comfort comes from the heart. Whether it is a rubber gloved hand or an elbow bump... the feeling of touch can be achieved. And let us not forget the power of the eyes... they are the only thing many are seeing right now and they can speak.
It reminds me of a beautiful quote: "Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.
by Paramahansa Yogananda
There are so many lessons right now. I can’t help but wonder if somehow the Universe has finally had it with our selfish, unappreciative and somewhat bratty behavior and has given us a much-needed time-out. It wants us to stop and think about all the magic and wonder that we do have in our lives, the blessings and the gifts, not the things or the money… but the earth, the sky, the people… the fact that we are alive, that we have right here and right now, and we have taken it all for granted.
I never realized how much we all take for granted. We have grown accustomed to going to the grocery store and finding the supplies we need when we need them, being able go anywhere and do anything, to invite people into our homes without fear, go out for meals or entertainment… until now, everything has always been within reach.
After searching three different stores, I finally found a store that was packaging flour, but you could only have one container each… I was so thankful for that one container. I knew that whatever I was going to make would taste like magic. I felt grateful to have the flour, to be able to come home, to be able to make blueberry bagels, and to be able to savor each bite. As silly as this might sound, I will never take the items on the grocery shelves for granted again. And with that, I will also never take the grocery clerks, or the truck drivers who deliver the groceries to the stores, or the farmers who grow the fruits and vegetables, or anyone or anything else for that matter, for granted again. To have what we have, and to live where we live takes a village. Our village needs our support, our gratitude, our respect and our appreciation.
Our quarantined and shelter in place time-out has offered me a lot of time to reflect. Perhaps that was the intention all along. I have never been made more aware of the power of community, the effect of kindness or compassion and the beauty of our world as a whole and how truly blessed we are despite our obstacles. I have been reminded of the importance of respecting personal space, practicing patience, leaving a few things for someone else to have because I do not need them all and most importantly how important my connections are with the people I love.
My hope is that we have all taken time to appreciate our blessings and that moving forward we will take some of these lessons with us and work harder to be kinder humans to our earth, our sky, our water and our people. Maybe some of us can continue to work from home, maybe we can spend more time with our families, share meals with friends, help others, check on our neighbors, take longer walks, and breathe in all of this amazing stuff we have been gifted and truly embrace and appreciate every single moment of it. If I have learned anything at all from this experience, it is that I am truly blessed. I definitely do not miss traffic… but I miss YOU and I want to spend more time with you when this quarantine curtain has been lifted. And I want to hug you... but I promise to ask first.
As we continue through this difficult time, please remember that while we are going through this together, we are each navigating it differently, which requires a little more patience, a little more kindness and a lot more respect. We have a million differences between us but at this very moment, for the first time in my lifetime, we are experiencing the same thing together. Continue to reach out to one another, lift each other up, and be kind.
Photo credit: Frances Freyberg Blackburn www.francesfreyberg.com