Incubation Blues - Day 1 of the Shutdown
Up again early. The stillness is spooky.
It feels like I’m in prison. A prison of circumstances beyond my control.
I like being in control. And I am not.
The gym is closed, so I will need to figure out a strength-training regimen to do here in the house. But not today. Tomorrow maybe…
I can still go on walks if I am careful to not get downwind from a puffing jogger.
I envision bursts of tiny infectious blobs pulsating from the few people who also brave the beach trail. Or even worse: in the aisles of the supermarket where virus particles no doubt emanate like speech bubbles from every milk-egg-and-toiletpaper-hoarding fellow zombie shopper.
Yesterday made it clear. I’m an addict. I didn’t know to what extent.
I am addicted to experiencing life in groups of people. I am addicted to action, activity, and visible, tangible enterprise.
I always used to joke that I could have been a monk or nun in a previous life — I like to be alone that much. The things we tell ourselves… jeez…
I have canceled my work and cleared my schedule. And although I now work from home, the lack of physical closeness and interaction with others feels like a pain in my chest.
I check every ten minutes to make sure it is not breathing or heart problems.
It is the feeling of not being able to go to a concert and stand close to others. How I miss that feeling of unity as emotions shared in the music bond me together with every human molecule in that room.
It is the feeling of not being able to visit family members in different households, particularly my mom.
How I miss to hug her close and just look into her eyes knowing that everything is OK.
It is the feeling of going to a meeting with work partners. I miss how ideas and mutual input blast forth from an invisible force field of our minds connecting in subtle, unspoken ways. I realize now how much this was amplified by our closeness in physical space.
It is the feeling of not being able to go out to dinner and sit in a booth, careful to not look over at the people in the neighboring booth, but still feeling that they are there.
It is the feeling of not being able to invite people over, cook for them, hug them at the door, and create a warm, shared, cozy space for us to connect over food, feelings, and happenings.
It is the feeling of not being able to go to the theatre or to the movies and sharing the moment with others. HA — I used to be concerned that someone was going to sit in front of me and block my vision — or that they would make sounds that would distract me. Now I realize the magic of sharing funny moments, laughs, being startled, and being moved alongside perfect strangers. How their experience actually heightened my own.
It is the feeling of not being able to travel. I used to travel for work, for family, for distraction, for experiences, for the heck of it.
And now, due to circumstances beyond my control, I am forced to quit cold turkey.
I am grieving the loss of all of this. Yes, I know — it’s only temporary, but it is temporary for an unknown amount of time leaving me not in control.
Here it is: My name is Marie and I am an addict.
The first step to deal with it is to acknowledge and not deny the addition.
I am addicted to being near other people. I am addicted to wanting to control. I am addicted to feeling secure.
And if it is true that we have to incubate in these times — incubate in the ancient Greek way — then facing our addictions is necessary. Facing loss and grief is necessary. It is necessary to accept that we are being stripped naked. It is how we will become stronger and more resilient. It is how we will learn to appreciate our privilege. It is how we will develop more understanding and compassion. It is how we will learn to listen. It is how we will learn to be and not just do.
I know all of this. But right now, I struggle in a net that continually tightens around me.
I know… I can find yoga and meditation routines online.
I know… I can look around me and appreciate the darling man and son I share my house and meals with.
I know…. I can find gratitude that, as of yet, none of us are sick and our bills are not yet unpaid.
I know… I can appreciate that we do not starve and that the stores generally have what we need — if not everything we want.
But you have to forgive me. Right now, I am still plummeting down the spiral of being sad, desperate, afraid, and resentful.
Right now, I am a junkie writhing in abstinences from a life of activity I took for granted.