It’s mid afternoon. I haven’t seen a cloud all day beyond the tree’s spring leaves which are in bright, juicy bloom. In a shady spot beneath the flitting birds and green-oh-so-green canopy of my backyard rainforest, I rock gently side to side on my hammock. I’ve been in this spot for nearly an hour staring either up into the blue patches between the leaves or past my feet into the green movements of fresh, sweet-smelling growth. Before this, I laid in bed with the window wide open and my laptop in my lap upon which there was a halfway composed email that I kept forgetting how to finish. There too I stared blankly either out the window or at the screen with a blinking cursor.
Everything is weird. Everything. And it occurs to me that in the overdrive of the weirded-out-ness, it’s easy to just overheat and shutdown. The ole “too many tabs open and not enough bandwidth to support them” idea. Then there’s isolation. Uncertainty. Anxiety. No structure. Down the mountain it all tumbles into the weird, worried abyss. Even this post is days old. I’ve left and returned to it multiple times. Edited it. Deleted it. Stared at it while paralyzed in in my own dank pool of murky, slippery thoughts.
So maybe I’m barfing this out for myself or maybe someone reading this needs it. Here’s what I’m trying to say (and please forgive what will inevitably be the rough ride. Like the feeling in my own self right now, this read is a stick-shift car bucking because the gears are slipping. Sorry.)
Feel. My god, allow yourself to feel. Even the scary parts. Feel it all. I’m not here to tell you what to do because I, myself, have no idea what’s up or down. But I would encourage you to try and not anesthetize yourself too much in the discomfort of loneliness, inpredictability, and boredom—be it alcohol, drugs, mindless scrolling or other methods of escape from the depth of the feels (which we all do in one way or another so reader, no judgement from me, I promise). In moments when you can muster the strength, be there. Be in it. If there is something I do know, it’s that whoever you are, the world needs you awake. AWAKE. Eyes wide open. There are enough sheep out there and we (all of us) need you here.
But along those lines, don’t be so judgemental of yourself. No one knows how to handle this. No one. The people we normally (or are trained to) look to don’t know how to handle this. I don’t think we’re usually in a place to have our coping mechanisms running on full steam for such a long period of time. So if you need to checkout for a while, you do what you need to. No judgement. From me. From yourself. Or that guy over there. And if that guy over there is judging you, flip him off and go back to doing what you need. Whatever you need. Apparently I need long bouts of just staring. And oranges. Seems to be the only thing I want to eat. Staring Oranges. (band name, I called it.)
Communicate. My jeebs, communicate. With your family, friends, loved ones, co-workers (or former co-workers), fans, supporters, neighbors whomever. Communicate. Stuck inside with someone (or multiple people?) Communicate fully with them. We all cope with stress, disappointment, confusion, anger, crises differently. Some people need quiet. Some people need to be in mode. Some people need physical contact. Some people need to be alone with their thoughts. Some people need to bury their face in a pillow and scream cuss words while other people need to retreat into a quiet room and pray. And on and on and if you can’t stop and communicate that with others, you’ll end up fighting or feeling neglected or feeling smothered, or forgotten or invalidated and really, just a series of conversations about where you’re at (or not at) can be the bright, shining beacon which makes this nutball time tolerable. So try to be patient with others. Don’t be the d-bag that screams at a customer service rep because you’re stressed out. I promise, they are too. Stop. Sit down. Communicate. Admit your weaknesses and your strengths. Say you are confused. Say you don’t know what the right thing is. No one does. It’s okay. And I’ll say it again. We need you here. All of you.
A few days ago, I got a call from a debt collector. I keep it no secret that I am in a god-awful pit of medical bill debt. You don’t have three surgeries in the past two years in this country and not be in incredible debt (even with what’s considered decent health insurance) unless you’re like crazy rich. Anyway, I got yet another call from a debt collector saying I owed a bunch of money to some branch of some medical department from a year and a half ago that I didn’t even know existed and when she told me the amount, I crumbled. I started to cry. I told her that I don’t have that kind of cash to spare right now, and who does? I told her I don’t even know what tomorrow looks like. She was very quiet for a moment and finally just said, “I know. I understand.” I let out a long exhale. So did she. And then we chatted for like 3 solid minutes about how nuts everything is right now. We laughed about toilet paper. Debt collector calls are typically recorded and I think this one was too. I hope that her supervisor hears that recording because she was a real person, confused about everything like I am, who took a few minutes to connect with me. I needed that. I think we all need that. We ended on it not being urgent and that they’d put a note to call back in 6-weeks to see where I’m at. I thanked her profusely. She told me to hang in there and stay safe. I told her to do the same.
There’s something about that less than 5-minute exchange that changed this all for me. All of it. We may not know jack right now, but we do know each other. All of us at our core are human and to be human is to be wildly complex. We can connect with complete strangers over a past-due bill. We can laugh and cry in the same conversation. We can be gentle to one another. And even though we remain in the shitty pit of uncertainty (or debt or confusion or sickness or frustration whatever) we can still connect with one another. What a time to be human.
Feelings. Nonjudgement. Communication. Gentleness. Connection.
I think that’s all I can say. No more steam in the engine. And if I don’t click publish now, I’ll sit on it for another week. Or maybe I’ll delete. Eff.
If you made it to the end, thank you. Also I love you. Yes you, fellow human. Also the world needs you. Be safe. Be here. Be you.