Facing Ourselves

As the invisible shadow of the coronavirus pandemic looms closer, ever nearer, it is easy to fall into the abyss of your home, your psyche, and quietly fall apart on the couch while eating Reese’s peanut butter cups and binge-watching YouTube.

The hysteria is silently palpable in a quiet, insidious way. It curtains itself behind dark looks and distance—not physical, but emotional. The anxiety scuttles, sharp-clawed, along each and every muscle fiber every time you have to pass a fellow human being.

Nevertheless.

Life cannot be lived in a hollowed-out shell of panic.

This week, I, like you, have been reading and watching quite a bit about the Coronavirus. Today I’d like to share a couple of opinions and perspectives that ring true for me.

Is it a 10 or a 2?

Adam Carolla goes into a great little tirade (as only he can do) as he describes what he calls ‘calibrating’ your brain. He asserts that we have to constantly (consciously) assess our circumstances in order to realistically consider the level of threat in front of us. Is it a mountain lion (a 10) or is it a rabbit (okay less than a 2)? ‘You can’t label everything a ’10,’ he asserts—and ‘the press labels everything a ’10.’  He and Dr. Drew (Both are from KROQ fame, specifically “Love Line”) discuss the integrity of politicians and the media who make their money by ‘not lying, but cherry-picking’ information, creating click-bait headlines and generally creating a climate of terror as they ‘write the truth, but leave out pertinent facts,’ all the while misleading and possibly harming readers and viewers. While not suggesting that we run through the streets in Baccanalian revelry or cough wantonly at one another, they drive the point home that we all must parent ourselves and accept what we hear and see with a critical eye.

Adam’s semi-wacky, possibly completely-true theories on germs and immunity are leveraged when the Sensible Dr. Drew weighs in.

FEAR

Joe Rogan and Andy Stumpf hash it out on The Joe Rogan Experience Episode 1445. Andy is a navy SEAL and the quintessential tough guy who starts by making a mockery of toilet paper hoarders.  Andy regales us with stories of using ‘gravel as toilet paper’ while in the field and asking ‘First, do you have a hose?’  As their conversation winds on, however, Andy relates what he feels is the real problem: fear.

“The most dangerous thing you can do is lose control of your emotions or let your emotions control your decision making,” he states. ”I don’t think there is a shortage of toilet paper, there’s a shortage of people with common sense buying too much toilet paper and freaking other people out.”

The video gets deep as Andy discusses his view that ‘most people’  focus not on ‘what they can control’ but on the things outside their circle of control. ‘Being scared, allowing that to make the decision-making process for you, is what gets people in substantial trouble.’  ‘you have to detach that,’ he says.

Focus on the Opportunity

I’ll be honest, when I heard the news that my kids were not going back to school my first thought was, ‘Finally! We get to sleep in!’

Maybe a little ignorant, but in those early days, the Coronavirus seemed very far away. Things are different now—a young mother of three who lives less than a block away from me is sick with pneumonia and the cases, deaths, and panic keep rising—like I said in the beginning, it would be easy to sit down and do nothing.

Except.

Except, I can’t deny that this time isn’t also ripe with possibility. I have time to sleep in, I am homeschooling my kids, one of which is still sleeping and it’s 10:00 a.m., and I don’t have a lot of time-sucking driving around and picking up and dropping off to do that I’m now seeing disintegrated my days. There are no sports to go to. We visit the store less. We hike more. The dogs have lost a little weight. Twice in two days, my son, who is 14, and a struggling student, said he wanted to get home from walking the dogs because he was in a groove with his schoolwork—he said he likes the way he’s organized his chair at the kitchen table. Two days ago he organized his drawers without being asked. This is monumental for him. He’s making his own daily list and organizing his time.

Both of my kids are learning to do their own dishes, how to navigate Zoom, the online classroom. My daughter is ‘in class’ right now with our Border collie, Violet. It’s Bring Pet To School Day. Today is Friday and I’ve got a big puzzle waiting for us—when did we have time for puzzles before?

Inside and underneath, there is a current of mind-numbing fear. Darkness, Illness, yes, Death. We are only people, one body each, one mind—I don’t believe it’s enough space to contain grief on such a grand scale.

For now, I’ll take Andy Stumpf’s advice, and detach it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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