The life lessons we are being offered are endless. The memes from mother nature reminding us of our place in the larger balance of the world. The endless zoom meetings, happy hours and virtual connecting because we need to be connected. The reminder that the world has taken a collective pause so it’s ok that we take a moment to breathe and take stock of what truly matters in our lives.
My son and I have navigated two weeks of quarantine after he abruptly came home from a semester abroad in London and one week of ‘stay home’ orders in California. We are not without food or toilet paper and have enough room for both of us to find private space when we need it and break out the board games and puzzles as part of our new life rhythm. I am blessed to still have work, settling in to my guest-room-turned-home-office in pajama pants and a fresh shirt every day that I have a zoom meeting video conference. Together we wrestle with the helplessness of not being able to do more for the millions of people who are having a different experience during this crisis.
And as the walls can feel like they’re sometimes closing in around me, the degrees of separation in losing someone I care about to this pandemic inching closer to my front door step, and the miles between me and my family feeling farther and farther away, I take stock. At different periods of upheaval, chaos and transition, I find myself seeking space and time to slow life down, have the capacity to reflect and assess and plan, wanting to make sure that I am always aligned with my purpose in life. Or finding purpose in what life has thrown my way.
What I know to be true is that with all the rollercoaster twists, turns and loops of life, I could not have survived them if I didn’t know one critical fact…that I am loved.
My mom and dad had five children in seven years, raised us on both coasts, sent each of us to college (which was not an option) some of us on to doctorate, legal and medical degrees. Even when we were helping our mom count food stamps for groceries in the 70s, we didn’t know we were poor. We knew we were loved. When we fought with each other our parents made certain we fixed it together, reminding us that we are the most important people in each other’s lives.
What I am being reminded of as the sun sets on each day of crisis and uncertainty, is that this too I will navigate. I will find my will. I will find my motivation. I will find laughter and joy in the chaos, craziness and uncertainty of this new normal. What strikes me as my connection to the world shifts through the lens of exchanging pleasantries with new faces passing by from the confines of my front yard, reckoning with the quiet pace of the streets during the occasional drive protected in my car or the three times I have ventured out to the store maintaining 6 feet of distance at all times from every one, all of us donning gloves and masks and wiping hand sanitizer on every surface we touch, is that I have what I need. I have what I need to climb one more of life’s mountains. I have what I need to get back to shore adrift in a riptide. I have what I need because I know I am loved. My family has given me everything I need. I know I belong, that there are people who care about me no matter time or space.
We all need to belong. We all need to know we matter. Now more than ever. Let’s see each other. Let’s make sure our neighbor knows they matter. Let’s make sure the family 5 miles away but an ocean of privilege apart has what they need. When our instinct may be to go insular and protect what we feel is “ours”, let’s open our hearts a little bit wider, virtually grasp each other’s hand and know that what happens to one of us happens to all.