Here at the Southernmost tip of Africa, we have just passed our twentieth day in Lockdown. There is that distinct and awkward feeling of trying to carry on as normal, as if nothing unusual is happening. And interestingly, whether unusual or not, we get on with life anyway, don’t we? And many of the challenges are the same as they ever were: the frustration of a laptop which suddenly plays up, or knowing that you need to make that difficult call, or deciding what to make for dinner. But we are fortunate if those are the extent of our concerns. There are people I know who are wondering when, and even if, they are going to be able to get back to earning an income, and others, far worse, who may not even know where there next meal comes from and are dependent at this time on the goodwill of others. On the positive side, there has been a groundswell of individuals and organisations who have reached out and stepped in to help, to try and offer something to people in our midst who are living with very little means of support.
Are you one of those who finds often, despite many moments spent in self- talk about how Not to take on all the world and its troubles, that you end up doing exactly that? It may help to remember that this may just not be possible, not today, nor in future. And even if it were, would you even wish to be assigned such a task? Are you in fact the best person for the job, and even if you were, would you actually want it? Sounds like a lot of responsibility to me, one that requires great skills which I know I don’t possess. Saving the day usually requires a multi- pronged approach: such as flying in to land in exactly the right spot, rescuing the child (or puppy), fighting off and apprehending the perpetrators, reporting the crime and ensuring that the abusers are bought to justice, offering counseling to the families of the victims, and then making it home in time to cook supper for your own family and attend to your own backlog of admin and other work. It’s just not possible. So we need to make choices here, and that may involve letting some things go, sometimes quite a number of things, if we are to honour the reality that we need to put our own well-being right up there in our list of top priorities.
Over this difficult period in particular, I like to remind myself that Peace starts with Me, and by association with the home that I live in, the people and pets that I live with, and the people who regularly come into my home, such as those who work for me in my home and in my garden. ‘Charity begins at Home’, as it goes. And from this place, from my home base, I can decide to help: to serve at a soup kitchen, or to buy food to donate, or to make food at home which I then take to the shelter. I call the vet and the SPCA when a lost dog, weak and injured, possibly hit by a passing car, wanders unsteadily in front of my driveway gate and lies down there. I remember to acknowledge and to thank the people who are at this time working in essential services, including the men and women who are there for me when I go out to buy food and other necessities at this time.
I made myself up a short list of ‘Dont’s’ for this time, which may seem counter-intuitive, but I sometimes find that framing things in this way can be a helpful reminder in how to proceed (and how not to) during challenging times. Feel free to refer to both in and out of Lockdown:
- Don’t hold your breath (and that may be taken literally and figuratively here). Waiting for things to change just makes you irritable and impatient, and forgetting to breathe is bad for your blood pressure.
- Don’t put yourself last. The people that you live with, work with, feel accountable to in any way sometimes will just have to await their turn.
- Don’t be attached to outcome. Even with your best efforts, things don’t always turn out as planned. Sometimes its best left alone if that is the case. Unless it’s a new washing machine, there are no guarantees.
- Don’t blame others for decisions that you were party to if you find you are not happy with the outcome. If you dig around without your blinkers on, you may find that you were a willing party in What Happened.
- Don’t try to be the Rescuer, the Avenger and the Judge. Maybe choose one.
- Don’t forget to stay grounded. As the Kripalu Yogis say, ‘Learning to stand on your own two feet is more important than standing on your head.’
And when it all gets too much we may just need to sit down for a while. To back off a bit. To just breathe, to slow our breathing down. No special techniques required: just slow your breathing down a bit, gently and gradually: imagine that everything is moving in slow motion, and just breathe accordingly. Mouth open or closed, it really doesn’t matter. And if you want to sigh or cry out or just plain cry, then just do so. It’s all good for you. This is your moment, so make it count. And when and if you feel ready, you can start to spread the love. Send loving feelings to wherever and whatever and whoever you so wish. Whatever works for you. Imagine yourself giving out hugs, or flowers or beautiful food. Or parachuting in to save the day. Or laying on healing hands, with the love you feel in your heart emanating out through your palms and fingertips. And don’t forget to include yourself here- you too can be a recipient of your own love and good wishes.
And always, if in doubt, just be kind
And remember to include yourself in there ♥