“Stay at home” order beginning week 3. It feels like it’s been longer, but time itself is beginning to get weird, only tracked by the clients I see virtually for their regularly scheduled appointments. It has so quickly come to, “What is a weekend?” Now that the scramble to establish some form of normalcy (?) while isolating ourselves from real human contact outside of our group of two has subsided, we have come to the challenging space of relearning how to “be.” Overall, as a species, we have developed genius methods of distracting ourselves from being, or from noticing our being, and those devices left to themselves without the additional distractions of being constantly on the move, rushing from the moment our feet hit the ground until our faces hit the pillow every night, are beginning to take up less space. I am entering the phase of noticing more, but am not yet interested in trying to fix.
My honey and I went to church yesterday, or as some call it, nature. We got away to the mountains to go for a hike. I woke up feeling heavy, and a little sad, the morning progressed, and by the time we hit the trail in the early afternoon, I was in full blown sadness. I usually want to find a way to fix these emotions. Oh god, I’m sad, what do I do? How do I make it better? I must know what I’m sad about! Yesterday, I walked, and I felt sad. For 10,188 steps, up and down over slick rocky trails, somewhat flat meandering paths, and up to the tree line of mountain pines, I walked with it. For a solid two thousand of those steps, I wept with quiet tears sliding down my cheeks. By the time we got back to the car, I was exhausted from the hike and the grief, and I felt cleansed as I slumped into the seat. I also didn’t try to figure out where all of it came from. The emotions were there, and letting myself be with them seemed like plenty, and I think it’s because I know that there is time to let whatever it is manifest itself naturally. I don’t have to do anything. The work is to be present enough to let the feelings in to do whatever it is they came for. Living in a town like Austin, or a world like ours, almost requires that you are more in the hustle than you are in yourself, which leads to an entirely different kind of exhaustion.
I’m noticing other things, too. People are really seeing each other. We spend a lot of time during the day working from the front porch. I think we both like to watch the world go by. This is something we do a lot when I visit, too, and most often people walk by on the sidewalk with their heads down, eyes directed straight ahead, earbuds shoved in their ears, heading purposefully to their destination. People are looking up, now, turning their heads to meet our gazes, and then waving with a smile. We are looking at each other. On our evening walks through the neighborhood, neighbors are saying hello, making small talk, working in their yards, and dining al fresco, out front. People seeking connection with other people. We are reconnecting as neighbors. Why do I think things are different, now? Because in the real world, we are comically busy. By the time I have navigated the minimal (by Austin standards) amount of traffic I have to deal with in a day, run my errands, hustled my hustle, done my writing, cleaned my house, seen my people (which is medicine), practiced my practice, and done every productive thing I can think of to convince myself that I am a worthy human being, and then stepped out on the sidewalk or trail to be in the natural world, I am solidly on MY time. I don’t have time to look at you, I’m walking, and walking is very important business. I’m listening to a great audiobook or playlist, the weather is probably lovely, and I have planned too carefully to carve this time out for myself today to actually engage with the rest of you. I’m busy!
We aren’t so busy today. Our walks are real time. They are not a chore, they are not a task, they are not only exercise. They put us in the world, and in our community, which feels more and more like a community of people who see each other. I love this. I also say this as couple who have no children who must be fed, educated, bathed (although in this new world…), and then fed some more all at the same time you are still trying to work from home. That is a layer I have no idea what to do with. FaceTiming with friends with littles has made me realize how easy we have it here at casa couple with no kids, which might be why I keep pushing for a dog. What’s a little extra challenge to a couple of fiercely independent adults who are suddenly on top of each other 24/7 for more than just a good time? Surprisingly, he doesn’t seem to be budging on the dog.
I hate the reason we are slowing down, but I love the slowing down. I love it that I am seeing so many families outside playing together. I love that we are taking more time in the evening to make meals together. I love that we are suddenly looking each other in the eyes more, and at our devices less. I love that we are reengaging with each other. I love that we are being made aware of how incredibly important our service and medical workers really are. I love that my focus right now is what is happening in this space today, and not on what I am hustling for at some future date. I love being forced to be present. This is so hard, but it is happening, so along with the parts that are hard, I am also going to take what is good.
Good lord, what is a week-end?