As we continue to venture in these unusual times, the challenges mount. There’s unsettling news from our neighbours to the south this week, and in our own nation-state, fracture lines deepen as institutions and individuals struggle to address and adapt to rapid change.
It’s hard to deny - these are destabilizing times.
I notice as the months go by, perhaps accentuated by the advent of winter, an increasing sense of concern percolates inside me. At best, I can name it as a sense of things that are important, even essential, are slipping away. It falls under the general topic of - What’s being lost?
What’s being lost?
I took a day to get away after a five-day work stint. I went for a drive to a small community outside the city. A usually bustling village looked like a ghost town. There were very few people on the street. The few stores that were open, were mostly empty. I had a nice hike along the river, and was able to get a delicious take-out lunch.
I have outdoor walks or a get together with masks with a few friends who are able to self-isolate as much as I do, and then of course there’s family. I haven’t hugged my daughter or granddaughter in months. My grandson is 14 so he rarely submits to them anyways, but it’s been hard to even see them, as the kids are back to school and so far, the family has been for COVID-19 tests twice since September – fortunately all negative.
I go out to get a few essentials, and people are side stepping, careful to avoid each other – okay - good for COVID precautions, but disastrous for our social fabric. Even on walks in the park, people give each other wide berth and increasingly, seem avoidant. The smiles and greetings there were there in the early days seem much less.
I miss going out to public venues to hear music, take in an art opening or attend a live lecture. Hell, even an in-person meeting would be great! In all those scenarios, I get to feel part of my larger human community.
We all know why we’re supposed to take these measures, but inside it goes against all our human instincts and needs for contact and real connection.
What’s Being Eroded?
In my Somatic Experiencing work, I remind people that humans are mammals. In our basic make up we’re pack animals. Instinctually, we know our survival depends on being part of a tribe – on belonging. So, here we find ourselves in this very odd contradictory situation of opposing messages – your “supposed” survival depends on avoiding people and yet our survival, especially our emotional survival, depends on being in connection.
It feels helpful to just articulate this cross current of imperatives.
My concern is that this current situation will be our reality for some time to come, and I wonder what will be left of our social fabric by the time it’s over. How will we repair this rupture? Maybe friends and family will be okay, and will make those repairs, over time, but what about the bigger social matrix that holds us together?
Finding a Grounding Rod
To name this helps me bring consciousness to it. The task is always to find a grounding rod in the midst of uncertainty, and destabilizing times. There is always meaning and purpose in challenges.
At the same time that I miss my everyday real live human connections, I also feel such a strong pull to quiet and stillness, to mediation and prayer. In that quiet space, I find myself just holding the world, mine and the bigger world, like a solid mountain.
In that space, I’m holding a vision of our wholeness. I’m asking for the spirit world, the ancestors, and all those who have gone before us, who have lived through so many experiences, to remind us of our great capacity. I feel them holding us now, giving us strength to remember what’s essential, what’s most important. This is my grounding rod.
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