The Power of Awareness During COVID
My kids got sent home on quarantine two weeks ago for exposure to a COVID case in one of their classes. I was on my way out to the door to my weekly acupuncture appointment when the school nurse called and said my daughter Ada had been exposed to the virus and we needed to take precautions by quarantining for five days and producing a negative swab. So off to the drive thru testing site we went to have some of our brain cells removed by an overworked, heat exhausted, sweet set of nurses. Twenty-four hours revealed a positive case in the house. One out of four of us were positive, and that meant we all had to sit tight and wait to see if we would get sick. My fourteen-year-old son Finn was the positive case. He’d had some congestion that week and had taken a cold pill or two and carried on as usual, really without even slowing down much.
Several years back, I got ahold of Eckerd Tolle’s book The Power of Now and began to teach myself how to notice what I'm noticing. It's a way of zooming out your perspective so you can sort of see yourself as a character in your own
TV show, and watch yourself doing things. Tolle teaches how to do this without self judgement and shame about the behaviors we notice. Having love and compassion for yourself when you see harmful patterns is super important and also easier said than done.
Awareness is a double-edged sword, with one side slicing you open without any anesthetic, and the other side delivering healing beauty and light.
I’ve been walking through existential crisis level awareness with a few of my clients, feeling about a half a step ahead of them in my journey—really, just enough to hold a branch back long enough for them to climb through the bramble of awakening without it springing back and whipping them in the face. But a lot of the times I feel like I’m feigning confidence in my spiritual direction skills, like, “Er, yes. It’s this way, I think…I’m positive we need to head into the sunset.” Secretly, I’m not one hundred percent positive, but there are breadcrumbs and other metaphors I pick up along the way that convince me I’m on the right path, at least for now. Plus, someone has to be the leader or the guide or the trailblazer. And somehow, I’ve volunteered in this lifetime.
Anyway, the clients of mine who’ve had COVID have described the forced rest
as extremely unraveling. Like their emotional guts fell outside their bodies in a heap of “hello, I’m here look at my messy, messy face” kind of way while they were laying flat in bed for seven and a half days. There’s so much fear and anxiety wrapped up in every microscopic aspect of this pandemic. By now, if you haven’t had it yourself, you’ve probably heard or witnessed an account of someone you love contracting the virus, suffering, and maybe even not pulling through it. It’s nearly impossible not to contemplate your life and possible death with a positive case in your house or body. The effects of the Corona Virus affect us all differently depending on factors I don’t think we can even fully comprehend.
Meg, my therapist during my coming out chapter, sent a newsletter out about that feeling were all getting right now of wanting to make some crazy change in our lives just to feel something different. She references an article on what’s now being referred to as the Pandemic Flux Syndrome.
“Pandemic Flux Syndrome presents as low mood or mild symptoms of depression, a rumbling anxiety and blunted emotions. At the same time there’s a sense of wanting—needing--things to be different.”
When we got the results that Finn was positive, my partner Nai, who lives with us now, and I decided the exposure damage was already done and let Finn interact with us mostly as usual. Ada, a normal teenager, stayed in her room the majority of the time anyway. We figured we’d either find out we’re immune or get sick and get some level of immunity from that. Nai got a headache and was in bed one day, otherwise fine. I had almost all of the symptoms a fresh Google search turned up, but no fever, or no loss of taste/smell. As of the writing of this, we’ve tested four times and still no one else is positive. Finn never got anything more than a stuffy nose. I felt the worst, and was in bed a lot for over a week and still don’t feel “well.”
While my body was aching and feverish, I found myself flip flopping between hoping this would be a mild case and making a mental living will, wanting to reach out to ask for support but feeling a little ashamed and untouchable that we had it, worried it would get worse—drag on—have some level of permanent damage. All the things.
I already feel like I’ve lost so much to the forced changes of my life from this new reality we live in. And while I’m grateful for the changes which have bloomed fruitful things in my life, the grief of losing my community has been deep. I don’t go out much since I now live in a state and city which is overcrowded, constantly in flux with tourists, and honestly, in my opinion, extremely careless and seemingly oblivious to needs of the collective. The whole entire experience has left me asking myself repeatedly, “What the hell is going on?”
COVID, if nothing else, is altering our understanding and awareness of reality, revealing the urgency for us to wake up and do things differently.
And that shit is hard. It’s the sharp edge of the sword of awakening. I don’t really have the answers, but I do know it’s not going to end without a serious effort from us to change direction. Maybe the pandemic flux syndrome that’s igniting this need for change in us all is the underlying intention of this whole crisis. What can we learn from the level of suffering and grief we’re in right now? What can you change about your awareness to better the collective? How can we hold each other’s hands through this scary, uncertain time?
Poet Ranier Maria Rilke said,
“Live the questions, and then perhaps without knowing it, you will someday live into the answers.”
I’m sharing all of this with you so, if you’re asking the same questions, you feel less alone--and to ask you to please be open to the possibility of saying yes to a deeper awareness of yourself, your people, all the people, and the planet. Even if it’s painful.
There are many healers and guides across the globe, like me, who have been or are being called to walk with you through this stark unveiling of the fragility of our lives. Maybe you’re even one of them. Take our hand. Let’s live into the answers together.