When I was in the ballet in the sixties, we did a number of one night stand bus tours across the United States. They lasted for about 10 weeks to say that they were grueling is an understatement. Each day, we got on the bus at 7am, we traveled for hours trying to doze off, we got off the bus, (its only amenity was a toilet), and we dragged our suitcases into a seedy hotel. We had 30 minutes to unpack (we didn’t bother), we were bussed to the local venue, we rehearsed the ballets we would perform that night, we searched out a diner or café to eat something that was usually pretty bad, we went back to the venue for an hour warm up, we spent the next hour doing our own hair and makeup, we performed, we went to the hotel, slept about 6 hours, got back on the bus the next morning and did it all over again.
During each tour, when we were about 3 weeks in, get become filled with anxiety and I’d say to myself, “I can’t take this any more.” But I did it. It was all about stamina. That’s exactly what seems to be happening with the coronavirus. I roll along, the hours pass as I entertain and soothe myself, I write, I talk to friends, when suddenly, I get hit with a rush of anxiety and I hear myself saying, “I can’t take this any more.” But of course I do. The alternative is not an option and we are all in it together. It’s all about stamina.
In our current situation, some days fly by, on others days, it feels like house arrest, but it beats the alternative: getting very sick, putting others at risk and the possibility of not surviving. This necessary stamina brings to mind a courageous woman named Ang San Sui Kyu from Myanmar, a political prisoner who was under house arrest for fifteen years with no ability to communicate with anyone. She was given the option of being released if she would leave Myanmar and abandon her cause of bringing democracy to her people. She refused, she remained under house arrest, and she had no idea if or when she would be freed. She is free today and she says, “The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.”
As we go through this time with social media, TVs and Smart phones at our fingertips, there are many ways to get through it: Be creative and write, paint or sing. Clean out your closets. Reach out and help other people who are having a hard time. We have no idea when we can go out and hug our friends again, but let’s use this time to get to know and hug ourselves. When a dear friend and I we see each other from 6 feet away, we put our arms around ourselves and we feel loved. If you get anxious sometimes, that’s “being human.” Just remember that you are not alone. We are all building stamina and we’re doing it together.
What are you doing to pass the time? What do you do when you feel anxious or scared?