There are many things that seem or are out of our hands in this particular time. Whether or not we have a job or can afford to pay bills or have access to the things we need or want in the market. Who we must see all day or are unable to visit right now. Where we can go. The emotions that come up like popcorn in a heated pan of oil, perhaps exploding. These things are out of our control.
We are coached and told that we can control the way we respond to these things. Yes. And no. It depends on our skillset. It depends on how much is heaped upon us at a given time. It depends on our overall mental and physical health. In saying this, I certainly do not seek to absolve anyone, least of all, myself, from our response to moment-to-moment events. But I do seek to offer a little grace in a difficult time. And an opportunity to continue to learn from feelings of disempowerment—and perhaps even disembodiment.
It is easy to lose touch with physical reality in these days. I see memes, featuring someone changing from night pajamas into day pajamas. And while we’re encouraged to get out and take care of our bodies, we’re equally encouraged to binge on seasons of a new favorite streaming show or clip after clip of video on social media. Some of this is okay. We can find rest and escape—we need that more than usual, for sure. We need to pad our lives with a little comfort and security, whatever that is.
And yet . . . we don’t want to forget that we reside in physical bodies. I know I’m “famous” or perhaps “infamous” for exiting my body when things get tough. I’m not a binge-watcher, and I like to maintain a daily schedule that gets me outside, but I can go on for years as a “shell of a person.” I can appear to be functioning normally—even quite productively—but the “who-ness” of who I am disappears. Dr. Seuss might have said, “The Who no longer lives in Whoville!”
To stop my internal “Houdini” act, or perhaps in my case, “Who-dini” act, I have to create. I have to paint and draw, touching brush to canvas and pen to paper. On occasion, it involves mosaic and glass, printmaking or sewing, gardening or cooking. I have to feel something with my hands. See it—really see it. Smell and taste. Mix and stir. Brush and dab.
I must engage my body in the act of physically creating. I know that this is not everyone’s cup of tea. And personally, I prefer coffee much of the time. If, in fact, you also prefer coffee, then we can grind our own beans, press it in a French press, hold our face over it’s aromatic steam and drink in our physical presence today.
As we go along, perhaps we realize that, even in the best of times, so much is "out of our control." COVID-19 has disrupted some of our illusions of control. But we can build the skillset to respond constructively--little by little. One physical act at a time. One mental process at a time. Moment by moment. We are a work in process and progress. Take good care, and keep on keepin’ on!