I’ll be honest: I have been having a hard time.
The weather is turning springtime: the sun is shining, the leaves are fluttering green and fresh, grass is being mowed, birds are wooing and cooing, but I am stuck in my head – in a place of negativity, anxiety, and doubt.
I’m feeling hopeless. I’m feeling like I have nothing to look forward to. I’m feel a pressing grief about all that we have already lost and fear about all that we are set to lose in the coming months.
- The smell of sunscreen reminds me of the beach vacation we take every year with my parents: nope, cancelled.
- The warm breeze reminds me of baseball games and park picnics with friends: no, not happening.
- The seedlings we are planting remind me of the farmer’s market, live music, and popsicles: nope, not this year.
- The squirt guns my kids are chasing each other with remind me of going to the pool and waterparks: nuh-uh, closed for the summer.
- Well at least I might get some time to myself to read in the shade… no, yet again, no…since there won’t be any summer camps and, for that matter, my kids may never see the inside of a school building again.
I know I need to focus on the joys of the present: my kids actually playing together and enjoying each other’s company. My husband spending so much time at home with us. My plants beginning to grow. There is a “new normal,” as everyone likes to say. The earth is healing. The people are connecting from a distance.
It has been so hard for me to avert my eyes from the uncertainty of the future. It is hard to stay tucked in to my present. Am I depressed? Maybe. I’m definitely deeply sad. I’m not quite panicked, but I’m definitely operating in a state of mild trauma.
It’s like a constant war is being waged inside my mind:
This is the end of society as we know it; I’m shriveling and dying. It’s a beautiful day, go spend it playing with your family. But I should be preparing for what to do next, because everything I’ve always done is cancelled. Just do what feels right, right now. But what will I do in 2 hours? 2 days? 2 months? 2 years? I must know! You can’t know that… life is uncertainty by its very nature. This is too much. I don’t know what to make for lunch. Or dinner. Or if I can muster up the strength to go to the grocery store tomorrow. It’s ok. There are hot dogs and granola bars. They won’t starve. We can’t live like this!!! I must cook something healthy and natural because I have all this time and should be filling it with productivity and self-improvement! You’re depressed and freaking out. Just take some time to yourself. How can I do that? Everyone needs me. It’s so nice out; I should be landscaping or biking or taking my family on a nature walk. Just breathe, then. Sit in the sunshine, close your eyes and breathe. Let them eat raw hot dogs out of the package. But… *wimper*
So I write and get it out of my head and into some words at least. (Maybe I’ll post it, I think. Surely someone else can relate…)
Then I sit in my friend’s driveway (6 feet apart, of course) and we talk about anger and power and love. And I feel a little bit better. We agree that we are strong.
And I bike with my family to a slow-flowing river, and we take off our shoes and let our feet get cold and wet and earthy. My daughter squeals with glee as she wiggles her toes in soft sand. My son digs a trench in the steep damp riverbank, brow furrowed in concentration (he is always the serious one) and my husband smiles at me from behind his sunglasses.
We are together… which is what matters. I know.
I walk upstream a little bit, along the gravelly edge of the water, and look at the way the water has left evidence of its torrents and rages. There are dried and crusted cornstalks stuck in branches above my head and jagged walls of dirt and root holding up the bend of the now-gentle stream.
Nature can be wild and unforgiving. Things must get torn up and washed away every now and then in order for new life to sprout.
I know this truth. I know that rivers and pandemics and shifts in societal norms are all powers greater than I, and that my anxieties and doubts mean nothing to them. But that’s a hard truth to stomach when you realize you are a tiny organism in the midst of a deluge of worldwide proportions.
Then I look down at the sand and I see it, one of Nature’s little love notes: two whirlybird maple seeds forming a perfect green heart right there at my feet. She seems to send these little gifts to people when they need a reminder to relax and breathe; secret messages only for those willing to slow down enough to see them.
These are hard times. But I know there is love to be found.
Maybe more walks will be taken. More bikes will be ridden. More letters will be sent. More breads will be baked. More hands will be held. More brothers and sisters will play in peace. More teenagers will talk about their days. More daddies will wear more unicorn headbands and more mommies will snuggle reluctant sons.
Maybe we will all find more love.