Holding on by a string

I’ve tried to stay upbeat about this pandemic. As I’ve written previously, there are silver linings to be found in it. And I think most people are finding it to be a much needed forced time to reassess their goals and lives.

But I’ve been rapidly approaching a breaking point in the last couple days. That’s why I’m here working from home watching the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie marathon (which I will do all weekend) because I simply can’t take any more news.

I heard several reports yesterday suggesting that the outbreak in the US would resolve this spring, and then we’d get a reprieve for a few months in the summer, before the virus returns from South America with the vengeance of a double-crossed Colombian drug kingpin in the fall.

And that’s when I. Lost. My. Shit.

The prospect of doing this all over again in a few months was more than I could bear. Then my mind really started to whirl like a Tasmanian devil…will I still have a job and health insurance? Will we have a food shortage? What will happen to the economy? Will we be attacked by an enemy in our moment of weakness? Yadda yadda yadda.

Spinning it back home after a couple glasses of wine soothed my paranoia, I realized the part that bothered me most was the possibility that the travel ban might stay in place and I wouldn’t get to travel this year. First world problem, you say? Of course. But everyone has a spot where this stay-at-home order affects their lives most directly. This is mine. I don’t need toilet paper, I have a ShamWow if I get desperate.

I don’t like people but I’m an explorer. I have a basic need to go out and experience things, albeit by myself. That’s why this is so hard. Sure, I can be locked in the house day to day, but don’t take away my big picture. If I can’t explore I’m not alive. That’s why I challenge myself to search the dark corners of the world. (Ok, the dark corners of nice, clean cities in Europe.)

Traveling is the one time I can shirk all responsibility to everyone who depends on me and be free. To feed my senses. Or my curiosity. Or to see a sign from the Universe. Or to learn a life lesson. That is living to me.

And sure I’m serving a purpose by staying in my bunker with Miss Daisy. I’m keeping her safe and secure, which is an important role. I’m ensuring I’m not a carrier spreading this to other people at risk. But I’ve fought too hard to get back to the fearless little girl who wants to go exploring that I don’t want to lose ground to this invisible enemy. Oh hell, I just quoted Trump. I’m getting punchy. Scratch that. Goddamn virus.

I know I’ve written about not giving in to the fear and focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s still true. I had a bad day yesterday. I think it’s important to remember that we’re going to have good days and bad days. And that’s ok. Everything we know has been overturned like a messy junk drawer dumped in the middle of your floor because you can’t find the ball of string that you just know is there somewhere. Things we were once sure of are not necessarily true anymore, nor do they necessarily still matter. We will have to learn to improvise and MacGyver our lives, and it will be ok.

This isn’t easy, and it will last longer than we hoped and expected. But most of the time we need to focus on the best outcome, not the worst case scenario. Hopefully we all have someone who will be there for us when we slip into the dark places, because that is the only way I see to navigate these choppy waters. At least for me, I need someone to keep me from drowning and to throw me a life line every so often.

Everyone says they can’t wait for life to return to normal. The reality is that it’s never going to go back to what it was. I think most of us who are using this time to evaluate what works and doesn’t work in our lives are realizing we don’t really want to go back to what was deemed “normal.” Normal wasn’t working for most of us, or for society as a whole, or for the planet. We had plenty of warnings that things were heading in a bad direction (the Amazon, Australia, earthquakes). I don’t want normal. I want new, better, more holistic, exciting, challenging, and fulfilling.

I’ll still get to travel when this is over. It just better be over soon.

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