Here, Now Isn't Helping
I have spent much of the last Coronavirus week reminding both clients and myself, when we are tempted to spiral too far forward into the unknown, to return to a mindful awareness of “here, now”. Using this mantra to ground ourselves in the present. It is meant to assuage so much understandable anxiety about what is to come. I believe in that. I know it is a way to calm our anxious thoughts.
But this morning, as I practiced my own “here, now”, I found that the uncertainty and ennui of the here and now is the very thing I WANT TO AVOID. In the here and now, I feel unsettled and more than a little grumpy. I was talking with my mom yesterday and she said, “You sound kind of annoyed.” I did not realize that, but responded with a pretty certain, ‘Well, this is all pretty annoying.” And this morning, when the anxiety-provoking “here and now” felt sort of like static buzzing all around my insides, I got up and paced around the house. I went up to the cupola to water the hundreds of seeds I planted last week (hoping to “add some positive emotions” to this strange place in time). I have, right this moment, the definite sense of wanting to just shake off reality and opt for something else. If a client told me that in a session, then I know the conversation would lead to the notion of radical acceptance.
I KNOW that “fighting what is”, is fertile soil for discontent. So I sat down to write.
And actually, just writing helps a little. This is the time and place we are in; I am in. Period. And in this time and place, I think maybe, for today anyway, I need to change my mantra. Right this moment, “Here, Now” is not helping. I need to choose something else. But what?
I do not like it. I find it sort of annoying. But I have to figure out how to manage myself today. I do not like it. I find it pretty annoying. But I have to coach myself through my day.
I read last week that Aung San Suu Kyi, commenting on her 17 years of house arrest, uttered the very simple phrase: “Books always help.” I guess maybe I will start there. I guess I will start at my bookshelves or the stacks of books by the couch or the bed to figure out, not what I SHOULD be reading, but what would provide a powerful distraction today or, perhaps, what might comfort my soul.
And then, I suppose I will go outside, although it did just this moment start to rain. Okay. Rain jacket. Air and exercise and a look at my bees (it seems they survived the winter!) and a look at my gardens (though still a couple of months away). This will not eradicate uncertainty, but it will help with today.
While I am out there, or as often as I can remember today, I will try to practice gratitude. I am so aware that what I am struggling with currently is not life and death. The people I love are currently safe. My home is relatively safe. I am deeply grateful that, today, I can say these things. That does not cure anxiety. But it DOES really help. And help is what I am looking for. Some way to gain perspective and to gently, kindly and compassionately, help Lyn through her day.
Then I suppose I will come back inside and I will likely just do my day. Maybe bake something or decide what we will have for dinner. Phone some folks and email some others to see how they are faring. Try to be gentle and kind and compassionate with them as well. Try to be loving. Watch something. Read. It isn’t riveting, but I think I can get to the far side of this day and soothe the anxious internal static by doing these things.
Then tomorrow, I will do tomorrow. I will take care of that then.
For today, I do believe I am going to switch my mantra to “Just, this”…and just do the next thing.