I feel like a yo-yo.
Up, down, up, down, up, down. I think it’s natural during this time of uncertainty for all of us to feel that way. One moment fine, another spiraling into despair. One moment calm, another angry. Focused then frightened.
That has been my day today.
On a normal Saturday with no plans, I would sleep in late and then make coffee and chill out with a little checking of email and then probably reading a good book. I woke up surprisingly early today, unable to sleep because my mind was in overdrive. I did manage to make coffee and have a ‘normal’ kind of morning. I realized that I had forgotten to pick up my dry cleaning, so I did that and felt like I have experienced a glimmer of a normal day, finally.
Once back home, however, I found myself sitting here staring at the wall thinking, “OK. Now what?” I mean, I can only clean out a closet or wipe down a counter or plump the pillows on my couch so many times before it becomes redundant and useless.
Netflix works for a while, but eventually that becomes boring and pointless to me as well.
I connected with several friends via phone today – more than I have ever called in a single day in years. That was an upside today. I realized, after my sad day yesterday, that the problem yesterday was that I had isolated and didn’t reach out for contact. Today I made an effort to text, message, and/or call nearly a dozen people. This focus on outreach is helping me navigate this weird reality.
One friend commented to me that she was surprised at my angst about being alone. She pointed out my years of practicing Vipassana meditation. If you are not familiar with Vipassana, the trainings are generally about 12 days each. During that time, for about 10 full days, you are totally silent. You surrender your cell phone and bring no reading or writing material. For those ten days, you spend nearly ten hours a day in meditation in total silence, not making eye contact or speaking or touching any other person. It’s intense and life-changing and it does teach you about being alone with your own thoughts.
The trick there, however, is that even though you are silent and making no contact with others – they are still physically present. You may not be communicating, but the physical presence of other people is always there. That’s the difference between Vipassana and what I am now terming “sparkling isolation.” Here, I have no other human presence in my physical environment.
My friend also knows that I am essentially an introvert, so it should be easier for me, right?
If you have ever taken the (in)famous Meyers Briggs personality inventory you will get this. I always score either INFP or ENFP. That “NFP” has never changed in nearly forty years of my taking that test. What does shift is the I/E parameter. That measures how much you are either Introvert or Extrovert. For me, I score right smack dab in the middle. I tend to think of myself as an Extroverted Introvert.
I love being alone. I relish that time alone. I am never happier than when curled up alone with a good book on my couch and can dive into the world of my imagination. That energy also makes the Vipassana technique so powerful for me.
On the other hand, I am equally at home on stage in front of 2000 people. I love to teach, to lecture. I love meeting people and networking and being a social creature – as long as I know that I can then be alone when I need to be. I suppose it’s all about balance.
So right now, the world has created a situation that feeds perfectly into the introverted side of my character, but totally squashes the extrovert. No balance.
So today, I have been like a human yo-yo going up and down and up and down emotionally because of this imbalance. As we move into what appears to be a protracted siege of this situation, I am going to have to focus on how to find that extrovert energy in the midst of isolation.
So today, my sparkling isolation was a bit shinier than yesterday. It’s a matter of staying focused and taking things one day – one moment – at a time. That’s what mindfulness is all about – paying attention to the ‘now’ and not living in the past or future. That’s my goal for this experience – to truly dive into my mindfulness practices and learn/re-learn how to be comfortable with whatever the Universe chooses to throw in my direction.