As I sat down this morning to write my weekly blog, I thought for a moment if there was something besides the pandemic to write about, but there really isn’t. It’s all pervasive so I decided to look at the situation with some mental discipline and figure out how to avoid the status quo of panic and terror.
When fear runs the show, nobody wins. We all know this, we try to be courageous when life throws us curve balls, but the more people buy into panic, the easier it is to get swallowed up, paralyzed and make bad decisions. When fear and dread are all around us, we have some choices to make. We can terrorize ourselves and each other, imagine a painful death and let anxiety run the show, or we can use our heads and consider what we’re doing and why.
Let’s think about what makes sense and what doesn’t. In my estimation, it makes sense to check the latest information and warnings, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to watch the news all day long and allow the fear to penetrate our thoughts and everything that we do. It makes sense to wash our hands and avoid crowds but unless we are clearly at risk, hoarding and refusing to go out at all can’t be good for us. That’s letting fear and panic run the show. And when people panic, it’s easy for others to get swept up in the stream of terror.
I remember something very radical that spiritual leader, Stephen Levine once said. “Death is perfectly safe. Everyone is doing it.”
I’m not trying to be coy or make light of death or a difficult situation, but I am trying to see our current dilemma as something we are all going through together. A friend of mine was at the meat counter of Gelson’s grocery store and she ordered a chicken cut up the way she liked it. When the butcher handed her the order, a woman next to her tried to grab it right out of her hands. If we believe that we are all in this together, it makes sense to be kind and wait our turn, to be compassionate and stop trying to outdo or out shop someone else. There is enough for all of us if we take our time and think about other people as well as ourselves.
I was at my local knitting store and a 97-year-old woman was sitting at the communal table, chatting and knitting away. She was visiting her daughter and she was scheduled to get on a plane in a few days and fly back to Oregon where she lived.
“Aren’t you afraid to fly right now?” someone asked.
She shook her head and said, “No. If I’m meant to go, it’s beshert.”
That’s the Yiddish word for “it’s meant to be.” I envied her acceptance of life as it is. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take appropriate precautions but when I feel overcome by fear, I slow way down and take one step at a time. I take it moment by moment when fear and panic threaten to take over my mind and my well being. I take a deep breath, and decide where I’m willing to go and when. I decide if something can wait. I decide if something feels risky to me. And I trust my decisions. If someone disagrees with my choices, I listen to myself, not them.
Some people have perished from this virus. That’s a fact. But the numbers are low. For me, the message is not to allow fear to run the show. If I can keep a clear mind and a steady nervous system, I’ll be able to make choices that are safe and sensible. I wish you all good health and ease in your bodies and minds, as much as possible. We all have to be kind to ourselves, try not to judge each other, and realize that we are united in this struggle against fear and panic.
How are you doing?