Waiting for Life to “Go Back”
Somewhere this fall I realized that we’ve all been waiting for life to “go back” to the way it was before COVID-19. That our country and world are so inundated with stress that we have been holding on to this desperate thought of nostalgia. That if things could just be like they were before our stress would melt away and we could all breathe a little. As I watch my own life and my loved ones collectively navigate what seems like tragedy after tragedy I’ve finally come to realize that waiting for stress to leave the external world isn’t going to happen as much as I would like it to. The only alternative is to seek peace, firmly plant ourselves, and say, “not this,” to everything that steals us from our own integrity, and “darling I am so sorry,” when tragedy strikes.
Exactly two years ago I made a vow to myself to never abandon myself for anyone else again to honor my own peace. In theory, this felt like an easy choice, I would stay true to myself no matter what life threw at me. At the time I had no idea of the monsoon that would come with my divorce or the continued challenges of running a company through COVID-19. I also didn’t realize that staying true to myself didn’t just mean on a large scale, it meant small choices each and every day that allowed me to stay in integrity with myself. I’m going to be really honest with you, if I was being graded on this I would probably get a C- at best. Trying to make the right decisions in a social world, through a divorce, and as the head of my company is no easy feat. Or, if we try that again, making the best decisions for myself as a human being is no easy feat.
Why? You might ask. Why would it be hard to say yes to yourself above everything and everyone else? Well, in short, shame, fear of disappointing others, not feeling like enough, and oppressive systems (Ok society) come to mind. I don’t operate in a vacuum and neither do you. Staying true to myself in my home, where no one else is with me is easy. I can tuck into my house for days, ignore all texts and calls, and do what my loved ones now dearly call, “hippie shit.” I’m in total bliss as I’m lighting candles, saging the home, working on a new recipe, or watching endless comedians with kittens (ok, ok, they were free…) curled up on my chest. Life is good, I’m one with myself, and at peace. But then, inevitably, at some point I have to come out of this bubble of bliss. Most of the time for my children, in a choice to see people I love, or for my own work. When I come out of this bubble staying true to myself isn’t always as easy.
The World is On Fire
As I peeked out of my cocoon of peace, initially my thoughts were, “the world is on fire,” we just need to wait for this to be over, and then I can be at peace. Then, in the spring of 2022, one of my clinics actually had a literal fire and now I’ve banned the words, “fire, or dumpster fire,” from the company. The world seemingly continues to hand my loved ones and I an extremely hard deck of cards. For years we’ve all been waiting for the stress of the world to go away and now I think we’re all just holding our breath for the next thing to happen. No wonder I like my Netflix, kitten, and wine cave so much. But, in the last few weeks as more tragedy befell my loved ones (and after a night laying on the floor surrounded by candles, Dametrius peeking in, “do you want ice cream?”) I realized that it’s not what comes for us, it’s who comes to us and the kindness we can give to our own hearts no matter what.
We can’t stop tragedy and hardship. Yes COVID was a big one, but the amount of loss I’ve watched my loved ones live through, as well as myself, can feel unreal at times. In those moments it’s not the fear of pain that will carry us through, it is the willingness to be carried with the love of others until we can give that love to our own hearts. To know that no matter what life throws at us, we are worthy, whole, bruised, but not broken, and are simply doing our best at this thing called life.
The challenge for me is this: if the world isn’t going to get easier simply by waiting for it to “go back” or for COVID to “be over” how do I continue on the path of choosing my own peace? How do I stay in integrity above all else?
I’ve come to accept that pain and tragedy are part of life and I cannot avoid it coming for me or my loved ones. This type of tragedy is what the natural world brings to us, it is loss at its core. I’ve also come to accept that when pain and tragedy come because of anything in our social world I have a choice. I can either choose to stand by or back and allow myself to either contribute to the problem or I can turn away and choose a different way. Choice by choice, as social problems present themselves to me I can choose to say “not this” over and over again until I find my path back home to my peace.
Our world has hurt and it is hurting. Waiting for peace won’t happen, but choosing peace is possible. It’s not the easy path to say no to everything that does not serve you, to say no to injustice and greed, but each tiny decision that allows you to say yes to your own soul is one more tiny U-Turn (Tara Brach) back to your own peace.
As you navigate these choices for yourself and put down all that does not serve you, start with this little question “what am I choosing above my peace?”