I have started (and stopped) writing this week’s blog several times. Given the incredible variety of themes to choose from, I am finding it very difficult to focus on just one. So, in spite of all my training to the contrary, I am NOT going to focus on just one thing.
NATURE—have you noticed that nature just continues to do nature, even in the face of a pandemic? Where I live, the return of the rain has brought verdant grasses and blossoms to brown hills and dormant trees. Sunsets are exploding with a full palette of colors every night. Mornings are water color master pieces, fog-gray mists hiding vineyards waiting for the sun to initiate lifting the shroud to reveal an extraordinary landscape.
FRIENDSHIP – have you noticed how very essential friendship is in these times of covid? Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Zoom have become vital technological allies in defeating the disconnection and isolation brought on by two years of separation. I have experienced a different intensity of emotional intimacy, acknowledging just how fragile life is, recognizing that this really might be the last conversation I have with someone. I am so grateful for the friendships that have lasted, in some cases, decades, and for the new connections I am making.
RESILIENCE – have you noticed just how resilient we all are? Yes, we may bitch and moan, complain and protest, but somehow, we are still here. Most of us no longer take how we do life for granted. We have had to face hard truths: people lie and let us down; there isn’t an easy answer to hard questions; it is going to take longer than we expected; some of us are not going to make it. In facing these truths, many of us have found new insights. Many of us are making different choices about work, about what we care about, about who we care for. This is a fundamental shift in values! And we are doing it. Yes, we are making mistakes, doing things clumsily, and for sure, failing over and over again. But we are getting up and re-committing to finding our way.
COVID – have you noticed that it (covid) is either all caps or lower case now? For two years we have been trying to understand this virus and it keeps out-smarting us. The suggestion is that we learn to live with it. I think that is a really smart suggestion. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, take responsibility for yourself and your loved ones and quit expecting someone or some entity to make it all go away. Stop being selfish and stupid.
EMPTY SHELVES AT THE STORE – have you noticed that prices have gone up and the things you once didn’t think twice about being able to buy have disappeared? When did we become so spoiled? When did we lose sight of the fact that food needs to be grown and harvested before it is packaged and delivered? When did we become so impatient that we throw a fit because we can’t have what we want when we want it? When did fall pray to the hucksters that promise a quick and painless solution to an intractable problem? We need to grow up, slow down, and take a moment to locate where we are in the greater scheme of things. Dinosaurs once ruled the world, but now they are fossils. Someday we will be too!
INTOLERANCE AND LACK OF EMPATHY – have you noticed how “judgey” we have all become and how demanding we are? It’s like we’ve been infected by the “Terrible-Twos”. People are actually resorting to violence because they didn’t get what they wanted when they wanted it! We all need a time-out. We need to read “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, and practice sharing, caring, and learning to take turns. We need to learn to love ourselves.
MAKE UP YOUR MIND – have you noticed that people are saying, “Tell me what to do!” and then complaining because they are being told to do something they don’t want to do? When did opinion become more persuasive than fact? (Actually, I know the answer to that – it’s always been the case!) I am truly bewildered that people have become so helpless!
THE BIG LIE – I am beyond bewildered that so many people are under the influence of conspiracy theories and are unable to let go of needing to be right.
POLITICS – have you noticed that we no longer talk about governing or leadership but spend more time talking about personalities and positions? I am no longer sure there is an agreed upon understanding of what government is supposed to be doing and how our elected officials go about getting that done.
OPINIONS TRUMP FACTS – have you noticed how triggered we all are by opinions? The knee-jerk response to new information is either/or: Either “I agree” or “You’re wrong!” No patience for “How did you arrive at your conclusion?” No pausing for alternative explanations. I am bewildered that so many people prefer to go with things that provide false promise and short-term relief from anxiety rather than learning skills to increase their ability to tolerate uncertainty and replicate outcomes that are helpful.
Life is Like Looking Through a Kaleidoscope
This ingenious optical toy was developed by Sir David Brewster and patented by him in 1817. Using reflecting mirrors and different materials and shapes, when placed in a tube with mirrors angled at each end, unlimited variations of design are created when twisted.
The kaleidoscope is the perfect metaphor for what we are going through right now. Different pieces, all tossed into a tube, confined between two mirrors that reflect different patterns that change unpredictably when the tube is turned. And oh, how we have been twisted!
For a very long time, we were used to viewing our world as a set design of color and shape. Things predictably and comfortably related to one another. Then the tube was twisted. Covid came along and re-arranged the pieces. The discomfort from the change was not due to the individual objects or pieces – these are all well-known and familiar. The discomfort came from the new relationships and the ways in which things were reorganized.
It is taking some of us a long time to adjust to these new patterns and relationships. And, in all fairness, the kaleidoscope has turned several times in the past two years, creating even more distress, fear, loss of trust and evoking both catastrophic and illogical response.
But it is important to take a moment and remember that all that happened was a turning of the tube. What is called for here is adapting to the new arrangement. That is all.
We can pay attention to the different way things are organized while seeking out the familiar in new places. We can find ways to accept that reds and blues are not to be found in their former alignment, but are now shifting and changing and relocating. We need to experience the new patterns and then find how we align. Where there is dissonance, we need to set about finding balance. We may need to take charge and turn the kaleidoscope ourselves, again and again, until we find a new arrangement that is acceptable.
Most of all, we need to remember that we are not looking at reality, but a reflection of it. The reflection of our hopes and dreams as well as our fears and demons. In remembering that, we can take our eye off the kaleidoscope and look into each other’s eyes and reconnect.