For all those people ready to declare 2020 a complete write-off, I invite you to think again. When I look back over the last six months, I’m amazed at the many phases of our shared Covid-19 journey. We started with reports of people making frenzied trips to the supermarket, followed by the storage of dry goods in anticipation of a quasi-embargo. We experienced an overload of Zoom meetings, dates and meet ups, as well a nightly glass or two of wine which seemed medicinal in nature. We cancelled holidays, weddings and social events, replacing them with baking marathons, crafts and online courses, anything to fill the dark, empty days we imagined lay ahead. Don’t get me wrong, these have not been easy times. I, myself, experienced mood swings which took me back to the roller-coaster years of my 20’s. I desperately hoped and prayed that things would get better, fast. I worried about my clients, feared my nieces who live abroad would forget me and I painfully longed to travel away from this tiny, suffocating island.
But here I am, still waiting for things to get better, ironically a lot more patiently now that the 6-month mark has come and gone. I’m no better at arts and crafts, nor particularly more knowledgeable despite a surge in my daily reading quota and still trying to lose the weight I gained after my initial baking frenzy. Something is different, however. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with a tale of my spiritual enlightenment because that’s not what happened. What did happen was a slow, initially painful realisation that I have no choice but to sit with my own discomfort and fear, and that nothing I’d do on my own would make this virus go away.
We’ve become accustomed to lives where everything we need is available at our fingertips. If we have a problem, we expect solutions, fast. What we can’t solve alone, there’s someone out there who can solve it for us. We have technology to thank for that. What we never banked on was a virus putting a spanner in the works, throwing the global community into economic and social crisis. What resulted has been a series of small and significant losses, the dashing of hopes, having to let go of the plans we looked forward to, our chances of promotion or securing the loan for the house we longed to eventually start a family in.
For those of us privileged enough to be healthy and with a degree of financial stability, we may have had the opportunity to step back far enough to see the wood for the trees. What happened when I did this was that I gained a renewed understanding of life’s impermanence and the immense power in letting go of our need to control anything and everything around us. We’re all so scared all the time – scared of what people will think of us if we make a mistake, scared we’ll miss out if we’re not out socialising and making new connections, scared our careers will never take off, or scared we’ll end up alone and desperately lonely in our old-age. How incredibly sad.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I had to quarantine for 14 days since I’d just returned from Spain. I went into an absolute tailspin of panic. ‘How would my clients cope without therapy for 2 weeks? I’ve let everyone down. Will I lose my clients and my livelihood?’ Needless to say, my clients coped absolutely fine without me, anyone who did feel let down got over it pretty fast and there’s no shortage of old and new clients contacting the clinic for appointments.
Part of this ‘adventure’ has been learning that life is not always an adventure. I’ve learnt that life needn’t involve a constant striving for bigger and better things and that we will survive for a while without exciting holidays and life-events to give our lives meaning and direction. Maybe the direction is sometimes just sitting still and accepting our lives just as they are right now. This often means sitting with discomfort, sadness and pain. I wonder what would happen if we experimented with letting go of our fear that life is passing us by or if we stopped striving and pushing ourselves relentlessly to achieve more and more. Would we really hinder our chances of getting what we need and want? We haven’t been taught that it’s okay to trust that somehow, things will be okay if we just let them be. We struggle to escape pain and discomfort without trusting that, eventually, these feelings will pass. Our friends and family will still love us if we don’t see them for some time, our clients or colleagues won’t desert us if we’re absent due to illness or circumstance, and life will often take its own course no matter how hard we try to steer it in the direction we want it to go. And most importantly, contrary to what society may have us believe, where we are right now and who we are in this moment is absolutely enough.