By now most of you whom this blog touches have been mandated to stay at home. You, my incredible community, are all over the world. Some of us made the choice to self-quarantine before anyone made the decision for us. Some of us went a little less willingly. The mandates are more restrictive for some of us than others, we started at different times and the anticipated end dates vary; but here we are, in a world most of us couldn’t possibly fathom even as few as 3 months ago!
When the stay at home orders started rolling across the world and then finally to the US, I noticed a surge of energy; a frantic call to connect. It came in the form of a barrage of (caring and well meaning) texts and phone calls, endless emails with invitations to coaching support groups, networking, workshops, business advice and support calls. News updates and COVID-19 responses came from every business that had ever emailed me. Yoga, Pilates, meditation, gym workouts, it all went online in a nanosecond. There was no space, no silence anywhere. It felt as if everyone was talking at once.
Compassion, resilience, creativity, drive, passion, care, and love were no doubt among the drivers of this activity. Intellectually I understood that. But it also felt to me that there was a deafening fear to be alone, terror at the economic losses (and believe me I was watching the red on my stock accounts every day too!). And no doubt horror at the illness and death the virus brought to our communities. In all of this fear it felt like no one could take a pause or allow the silence and space needed to think or feel.
For me the cacophony of demand signals with their sense of urgency was exhausting and lead me right to the edge. What I really wanted more than anything was to pull away, to go inside. I wanted to hunker down, wrap in a cozy blanket, light a candle and connect with myself, my feelings, my values and the people I cherish the most. I wanted to read and write, to listen and observe. But the clamoring continued, the pull of work, responsibilities, the news, the noise, it was deafening.
I found the energy to move forward, realizing that I could not always be in complete authentic choice but doing my best to notice when old stories of needing to do and prove and say yes reared their head. And I started to speak up and chose to stay silent when I didn’t feel like chiming in. I was able to say no, not now, it’s not time. I deleted email and chose not to enroll. I didn’t jump on the business panic bandwagon. I paid some bills late, I let calls go to voicemail, I didn’t clean the house, and left grocery shopping until it was beyond absolutely necessary, sometimes I took days to respond instead of hours, minutes or seconds.
Connection is important, and before long I know I’ll lift up my head and make a call, chat with a friend, offer a workshop, reach out to potential clients, and take on a new project. But I still sit here in wonder; why are we so afraid to be at home? alone? Is it fear of what we might find there in the alone place? Like the critical life giving balance of breathing, out and in, out and in…maybe the universe is telling us it’s high time to go in and see what’s there.
There is a time for the out and the in. And what I now know after 3 weeks of watching and listening, everyone is going out and in at their own pace and in their own time. It is asynchronous and it is OK! It is clear to me that what it’s time for is patience and noticing and allowing. It is time to stop pulling and prodding and expecting. It’s time to stand in powerful authentic choice about what you do with this precious time and who you spend it with.
What is it time for, for you?
I leave you, in health and safety, with this poem of the ages and song of the decades.
To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to reap;
A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up;
A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away;
A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak;
A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war a time for peace.
-- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Inside Cooper Union Clock Tower
by Lynne Harris Bernstein