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My world has become so small this part year. I’ve been very lucky – I have a safe and beautiful home, was able to continue working from home and don’t have pre-existing conditions that would make an infection even more dangerous. And yet the pandemic has of course taken away a lot of things I really loved. At this point I haven’t been touched in month and month and it’s getting to me in a haunting, eery kind of way.
I miss my family, I haven’t seen them in a year and three months. I miss seeing and experiencing new things, being out there and engaging with the world through art and ideas in real life. I miss sharing spaces with small groups of people, co-regulating by slowly and unnoticeably syncing our hearts and lungs, remembering that we are not just flat avatars on a screen, but animals with soft animal bodies who remember what it means to be feral.
Breaking my leg on new year’s eve was a grand finale to a disturbing year that I just wanted to close in peace and quiet with some takeaway before I slipped on black ice. Now, four months later, I am still learning to walk again in little penguin shuffles. My next surgery is scheduled just before the summer solstice, at the height of abundant summer light in Scotland.
So now I am here, and the pain is here too, and there is nowhere else to go. My home, my dogs, my books and my garden are my whole world. Time feels less linear and much more spiral. All my days are pretty much the same with the exception of occasional garden visits, which are so treasured and exciting.
I’m struggling with the uncertainty of what all these things mean and what kind of normal the world will eventually return to. But also, I have wanted to feel grounded and at home my whole life. And this is it. Finally there is nowhere else to be. There is no more being here and there, chasing things and people, always moving towards the next thing.
I have been meditating for years, but never with such devotion. Never with such faith that I can be held and replenished by my practice in this way. In the absence of energy to resist real rest I have been able to finally become quiet enough to hear more of my own voice. I’m retraining myself in single-tasking and living a smart-phone and social media free life. Believe me when I say it’s not as strange as it sounds. It was actually quite normal not a long time ago. It’s totally okay.
In the last few months I have been living vicariously through other people’s fictional lives in well worn paperback novels. I saw the sky change and change again and of course the light came flooding back in after the longest winter. Right now I sleep so much that I never see the stars – it’s light when I fall asleep and light again when I wake up. This is something I really love about living further North in Scotland, the seasons are so pronounced. Before the winter solstice I planted dozens of spring bulbs in my garden and now they’re all here, like nothing happened at all.
Reading back through the beginning of this post I feel self-conscious about the way I frame things. I think I am hesitating because sometimes we’ve gotten into a habit of offering people an unsolicited reframe when the timing isn’t right or it just isn’t asked for. “This is an initiation”. Well, maybe it is. But in my experience that happens on your own timeline, it cannot be rushed and it doesn’t mean it isn’t painful as well as hopeful and beautiful. I know it’s hard to witness people in pain when there is not much you can do, I’m finding it strange and uncomfortable too. And I’m excited for all of us to become more intimate with good grief and real presence.
In this liminal time I sometimes have these moments of really seeing a flower in my garden, really witnessing how incredible it is that it once was this tiny bulb and now, by the magic of earth, water, air and fire it has become this elegant, magnificent being who is casually beautiful in a space I am so honoured to tend to. And I wonder why it took me so long to notice this kind of thing and if I could have learned about stillness in an easier way. But I guess that isn’t the point, because it is what it is and we’re all in it in different ways, trying our best to find magic in pandemic life.