Normal

When most everything feels so abnormal and foreign to us right now, it’s okay to feel it and at least to normalize the feelings. We’ve never been here before, collectively. The adrenaline of new information and new risk is wearing off as we settle into our shelter-in-place lifestyles. The novelty of using Zoom, Discord, FaceTime, and any video calling service is wearing off. And our bodies are finally starting to catch up with our racing minds.

For two or three weeks now, all we hear about, all we think about, maybe all we talk about is the coronavirus and what impact it will have on us. And our bodies didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for it. Personally, I’m experiencing greater levels of fatigue and sleepiness throughout my days than I ever have before in my former, office-working life. My body is teaching me what it’s like to mitigate risk by running marathons, not sprints.

So if you’re starting to feel the adrenaline buzz wear off, the novelty is just not so novel anymore, and you’re missing the old life, it’s normal to feel that. We all lost something, albeit temporarily, so abruptly that we went into fight-flight-freeze mode to get through the immediate danger, and now we’re realizing that the enemy moves much slower, but can run much longer too. We are feeling the adjustment as we shift into road trip mode instead of drag strip mode. Allow yourself all the grace you need and know that it’s normal.

We’ve never been here before. It’s totally normal to feel anxious and worried.

Some of us have never been homeschool parents. It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed and stretched thin.

Some of us have never worked from home. It’s totally normal to struggle with focus and feel like your work and home are too close.

Some of us have never been without work. It’s totally normal to feel angry and afraid of how you will provide for yourself and family.

Some of us have never stayed in one place for so long. It’s totally normal to feel restless and confined.

Some of us have never been alone for so long. It’s totally normal to feel a need for human touch and affection.

It’s totally normal to feel exactly what you are feeling.

Yes, beloved, it’s totally normal and I hope you can rest in that. Thank your body for taking care of you so well.

Anakephalaiossathai. Grace and peace, my friends.

Social

While we all physically distance into our homes for a few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about what tools and systems are available to us to maintain our connected common life together.  Now, more than ever, is the time to increase our connectivity and positivity, given what we know about the effects of isolation.

Maybe this is when we figure out how to transcend the digital marketing media and political sideshow that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become and actually learn to use these meeting places for enriching social purposes?  What would it look like for social media to actually be social?  Now is the time to get creative.

I for one will be using Discord to play DnD with my friends.  FaceTime to call loved ones in Washington state.  Facebook to launch conversations and start a podcast group.  Instagram Live for some experimental bonus K(no)w Normal People episodes.  Twitter will be a place for positivity and laughs.  Pinterest to find recipes that I want to try with Dixie.

 These apps and sites don’t have to be just another placating balm to distract us from the “real life” out there in the scare world of viruses and hospitals. We don’t need to fall asleep to the world with pacifiers like Netflix and Hulu; we need to foster connection with in the most creative ways we have available and invent even new methods to use this technology available to us.

I wonder, too, what effect this COVID-19, social distancing experience will have our on shared life together after there are developed ways of handling the virus? Remember when we used to sit at the same table at the restaurant, and all be swiping the moment by with our thumbs on the screen and our minds in other worlds? Now, we swap phones or stack them in the middle of the table, relishing our plate of nachos and enjoying a rich conversation with the people we invited out to dinner. Remember when we used to glance around on the bus or the train and notice that we’re one of the only people who don’t have their necks bent and headphones crammed in their ears? Now we smile and greet each other as we hop on the bus, maybe chat with your new neighbor, or just stare out the window and remember what it was like to self-quarantine for weeks on end.

It is perfectly normal to feel the anxiety. It is perfectly normal to be afraid. So when you’re ready, I invite you to consider how this could teach you about the meaningful connections you have. I invite you to consider what you were taking advantage of until the moment it was taken away from you. We have the tools to stay truly connected, so use them. We have the connections to keep us grounded, so foster them. How can you be more social, even in social distancing?

Anakephalaiossathai. Grace and peace, my friends.