One thing I have noticed about the pandemic is that everyone seems to be dealing with the collective consequences of having the illusory rug pulled out from under us. We all used to walk around with this idea that we knew what was going to happen. We future planned. We vacationed. We decided things. But then suddenly in March of last year, we all experienced an abrupt departure of how we thought things would go.
Many things happened that we didn’t think possible. Businesses closed, courts shut down, the virus raged and the experts had little effective advice about how to manage pretty much anything, it seemed that everyone was merely guessing.
Ten months later, it is completely different but it feels somewhat similar. I still have no idea what is going on but I have had ample opportunities to address the many abrupt departures I have experienced this past year.
What I keep coming back to though is that I had a lot of abrupt departures before March of 2020. I had a lot of proverbial rugs yanked out from under me and yet I somehow was able to always believe again that this next time, it would be different.
2020 kind of ended that encapsulated delusion I had about thinking that I know shit. I have no fucking clue what is going to happen today, like in the next fifteen minutes. The pandemic took that encapsulated delusion and un-encapsulated it and blew it to smithereens.
What has also gone is the need to create a story to trick myself into thinking that I need to know. I don’t. It will be whatever it is going to be…I may like it, I may hate it, but it is just going to be whatever it is. My feelings about it are really wholly irrelevant.
I can see now that any time I am thrown off course, the course that I think should happen, will happen, must happen, that it is an opportunity to reexamine my life, my experience of that life and what my habituated response demands from me while also taking from me.
Any time I am addressed, pulled up short or stopped dead in my tracks, it is an opportunity for me to pause, wait and breathe into whatever it is that is coming next. The abrupt departure from what I thought was going to happen, planned to have happen or expected to happen is a moment that is replete with meaning and growth. In fact, I would say that this moment is the greatest teacher, if we allow it to be.
Funny how often instead of taking this opportunity or really even seeing it as an opportunity, I just bitch and moan about it, try to stop it from happening or try to regain ground that I think the abrupt departure just took from me. Mostly, I have behaved as if totally offended and then my need to regain whatever it is that I think I lost takes over and I miss the lesson because I am fucking intent on scrambling back to a place where I thought I knew shit.
I think of March of 2020 as a time when I, along with several other billion people, were given an opportunity to stop. Stop everything. The abrupt departure of being able to live life as we knew it, perhaps the greatest opportunity of our lifetime. What did I do with that opportunity?
I used the abrupt departure in many ways. I used it as a break. I used it as a cause for fear and concern and worry and some mild, and not so mild, panic. I used it to create a doomsday outlook on occasion. I used it mostly though to slow the fuck down and really take a look at how I am living this life.
For me, the pandemic has given me a new appreciation for life. Death impending all the time makes one tend to appreciate every single breath you get to take. Except that I am human so while I did appreciate more, I also complained about shit that was really not important…things that were really trappings of that old encapsulated delusion that I was entitled to something, anything different than what I was receiving in this moment.
The lesson continues with more abrupt departures in my life. Each one providing me yet another opportunity to reexamine my life and how I am living it. Sometimes the reexamination results in a simple shift of intention or mood. Sometimes though, the reflection results in drastic and life altering change in the way I am doing this life. And how much I am enjoying it.
All of my examination of late seem to relate to values. Where I put my energy and why. I feel like I have lost a lot this past year. However, I also feel like what I lost was what was blocking me and what has replaced all that I lost, way better and more life affirming than anything I lost.
Today I have no idea where I am headed…and that is ok. Anything can happen. And I know today that expectations are really just the old encapsulated delusion attempting to grow back, showing me that the old life, where I thought I knew shit, threatens to return if I fail to keep the lessons of abrupt departure front and center in my life.
I feel horrible at all some have lost. I am terribly sad about all the people who have lost their loved ones and livelihoods. I am not paying lip service, it hurts me to think about them, their suffering and their pain. Really. However, my experience, my privilege thus far anyway, has been to allow the abrupt departure to pull me up short and cause me to pay attention to the life I have been given and what I am doing with it.
I miss Mary Oliver. I miss her words and humor. I miss her intense observations of a life simply lived. Today, her words echo in my mind…
What will you do with your one wild and precious life?
Today, I will accept the minute and grand abrupt departures and trust that no matter how I feel about any of it, they are all happening for me. Helping move toward a personal growth that adds to the collective good of all. And that just may be the biggest abrupt departure of all — living in the moment, for the moment and trusting that all that is, all that happens, all that changes, all that stays the same, is absolutely fine, really.