Yesterday, I received an email from one of my favorite online yoga instructors, Schuyler Grant. As part of an introduction to a 10-day, free online yoga series for onecommune.com, she wrote a brilliant post about her own struggles during this pandemic. One of the paragraphs particularly stood out to me:
No amount of attempting to focus on ‘gratitude for my blessings’ – which are many – seems to quiet the voices that whisper, “Why bother building things that can be torn down in an instant? Do all of my life choices suck?! What’s the point of anything?!?” (Maybe a side effect of Coronavirus is reducing the entire US population to angsty teenagers.)Schuyler Grant – onecommune.com
One of the reasons I keep up with this blog every day is that I have been assured that others do occasionally read and resonate with what I say. It makes me feel good that I can help frame conversations for others while exploring my own issues. Schuyler Grant did that for me today. She wrote exactly what I have been feeling.
Anyone who knows me well, particularly those who follow my daily posts on Facebook, know that I have posted every morning since January 1, 2012 a list of “Five things I am grateful for today.” That simple morning ritual has helped, over time, to reframe my thinking and has had considerable positive effect on reducing my innate negativity bias.
Still, despite this daily dose of gratitude – coupled with hours upon hours of spiritual development work and meditation and yoga and so many other things during this quarantine – I still feel lost and afraid much of the time. Clearly, I am not alone.
When Schuyler Grant asks the question, “Do all of my life choices suck?!” I absolutely resonate. I did an inventory this weekend of the state of my life now as opposed to the state of my life as recently as February. Over 55 years of decisions and choices have led me to the place where I am today, and now during this pandemic I find myself questioning my life choices.
Nearly everything that I have identified as giving my life meaning is gone – either temporarily or permanently at this point. I have dedicated my life to the performing arts. We all see where that is right now. We were the first industry to shut down and will probably be the last to come back. Who knows when?
I have created a lovely life alongside my arts career as a reviewer of restaurants and bars. That’s out the window now – maybe forever.
When staying closer to home, some of my most joyful moments involve going to museums, attending live performing arts events, learning how to rock climb at my gym, hanging out at my favorite bars to meet new people, spending time with good friends. Think about where all of that is right now.
For vacations, I love to travel. Wine countries are my favorites, places where I can drive around and visit wineries and taste and meet people. When not doing that, I love to travel to tropical destinations, most recently surfing in Costa Rica.
I am sure you see the pattern here.
Add to all of that the fact that my personal decisions over the years have been disastrous in terms of finance. I have virtually no savings and live paycheck to paycheck at the moment. My personal survival is entirely dependent, right now, on keeping my job which feels more and more tenuous as weeks pass by without any sense of when performing arts are going to happen again.
I have a hard time not feeling like all of my life decisions have sucked and continue to suck. Indeed, I feel like an angsty teenager right now wondering “What’s the point? Why even try?”
I don’t know if there are any answers today. Schuyler Grant goes on in her post to talk about the importance of resilience and I know that I am resilient. I have demonstrated grit and tenacity over and over in my life. As my mother used to say, “This, too, shall pass.”
I know all of that – and I have to trust that I will be OK both during and after this pandemic experience. Today, however, I do feel more hopeless than I have in a while. For me, the only clear pathway to navigate this messy tangle of emotions is to practice what I preach when I talk about mindfulness.
Every moment is new – and I have the ability in each moment to choose my focus, thus to choose how I feel and what I think. It’s not a magic bullet, but the incremental accrual of small positive moments can eventually lead me to a better place.
I cannot change the world outside of me, but I can begin to change the energy of teenage angst that wants to ruin my quarantine today.
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.