At this moment I should (whatever ‘should’ means) be in the air midway between Scotland and home. But instead, from my Angel Room window I have watch two fire trucks come and go from the church parking lot. A church member is there, talking on his cell, probably trying to figure out how to turn of the two different alarms that are blasting forth. I know this because I just wandered over to assess the scene. Nothing I can do, and it appears that the church is experiencing nothing more than an annoyance.
During these pandemic time, however, stress like this, especially with any added cacophony, can be overwhelming. OR, it can remind us to take deep breaths. What might we breathe in? To name a few: fortitude to deal with the situation at hand: awareness that this too shall pass: gratitude that we are only dealing with an electrical glitch. I could go on and on. Let us breathe in, AND out, fortitude, awareness, and gratitude.
If we were living in different times, right now I would be on the Isle of Iona, off the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. I would be breathing in pure air from this sweet spot; I would be wandering about the thin place.
But we never live in different times. We always live in the moment, and so here I am, safe at home, grateful for memories. Recently, during an early evening walk, I felt blissfully close to being on Iona, in a thin space between here and there.
Be with me now on Iona in 2014.
Most would agree that when we listen to the news, we can’t be neutral; in fact we don’t want to be. We can’t observe and then say, “Well that’s the way it is.” News watching in these pandemic days sharpens our tools of critique, which includes weighing the positive and the negative.
As I ease into my tenth media-free day I notice I am less apt to critique what’s going around me, and more apt to accept and say. “Well, that’s the way it is.” Oh, not always, but I am more discerning about what I analyze and what I choose to let be. For sure, we need critique and analysis; we need to know when it serves us, when it gets in our way, and when it takes over our very being. We need it in our jobs, when responding to family and friends, and when moving through our daily lives. we don’t need to analyze everything.
The other night I listened to Puccini’s Madam Butterfly offered for free by the Metropolitan Opera during this pandemic time. Butterfly’s two year old son was played by a puppet. Yes, a puppet operated by three people moving as human shadows behind him. I found it completely engaging. But what if I hadn’t like it? Could I have let the entire concept go, stopped all analysis and enjoyed the music? I hope so.
I haven’t turned on the TV in seven days. No listening or watching. My husband tells me any BIG breaking news; my computer news feed alerts me as well, but after I read the headline, I let it go. Of course I care deeply about the COVID-19 situation and everyone involved. Of course I am committed to social distancing. Of course the pandemic is running much of my daily routine. That is a given for all of us.
However, I don’t have to allow it to have power over who I am, which was happening as I watched day after day, sometimes hour after hour. To put it bluntly, real fear crept in as I realized that President Trump, not God (use whatever word resonates with you), was running my life. Off went the TV. No surprise!! My daily routine became more peaceful, my general attitude calmer, and my entire being more tranquil.
If you have been following this blog for a while (I stated it in 2009) you are undoubtedly aware that I write about what I’m thinking, feeling, and doing, and that I refrain from giving advice. Today I am taking exception to that unwritten rule and advising you to turn off the news. Observe the changes in your very being. And, maybe, just maybe, your positive energy will spread throughout the world; maybe, just maybe, collectively we can make a difference for the good.
The pandemic has forced many changes upon us that are entirely beyond our control. But it has also offered us choices about ways we want to spend our days, and how we want to feel about our life right now. I believe I can choose to be happy or sad, productive or lethargic, meaningful or purposeless, loving or fearful. I can say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to life at this very moment.
One choice I have made is to take a hiatus from the news. I haven’t turned it on at all, at least in the past two days, and I don’t plan to start up again any time soon. What a difference this has already made in my daily, emotional and spiritual life.
Daily life: I have more time to do what please me and brings me joy and fulfillment. Whether I am working on or completing a project, or just attending to life’s daily tasks, I feel a grace-filled satisfaction that I’ve rarely experience before.
Emotional life: I am living with more joy and less anger. When I wake up in the night I can fall back to sleep!
Spiritual life: My faith is growing and strengthening. Any fear that the news might ignite in me is being replaced by love. I have time to BE.
What I’ve written sound pretty rosy; it’s not as perfect as I make it out to be —I still get angry, become fearful, waste time…. but I know I’m heading in the right direction.
An observation: Sunny day forecast for today, which definitely raises my spirit. Two days ago it rained and I couldn’t wait for the day to end. These little weather mood swings have always been true for me, so what I’m feeling these days is normal. And yet, nowadays it feels like a burden that I have to attend to in a more serious way.
I just wrote that as an observation, but what luxury. My family and I are safe, healthy, and have plenty of food. I can walk outside; I have books, puzzles and movies for entertainment. I have purpose; contacting people in my church.
As I said: my weather mood is an observation, just that.
How to spend our days? As I listen to less and less news, new (no pun intended) activities fill my days, including a little movie watching.
I have completed lecture seventeen of “Medieval England,” one of the Great Courses offered on line through my library. The lecture covered the reign of Henry II (1133-1189), which has led me on a search for two movies (both of which I saw years ago): ‘The Lion in Winter,’ (1968) starring Peter O’Toole as Henry II and Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine; and ‘Becket,’ (1964) with Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. Neither is on Netflix or in my library. ‘Becket’ is on Amazon Prime for free, but I’ll have to pay $3.95 for ‘Lion in Winter.”
What is the difference between watching the news and watching an historical movie, or any movie for that matter? I could go to the internet for answers, but as I live into this pandemic , it is my own thoughts and conclusions that help me. One difference, I believe, has to do with fear and hope.
The news is what is happening now, the unresolved, the unknown, foreshadowing what could/might happen to me and everybody else in the world; it is alive; it generates fear. A movie tells about what happened and how events were resolved; it is dead, finished; it generates hope.
We are craving for hope right now. Yes, the news can offer hope, but at this moment the on-going story we are living in is a fearful one.
I wonder if anyone is playing April Fools’ jokes today? My hat goes off to that little imp who is putting plastic wrap on the toilet seat, pouring salt into the sugar bowl, or even telling someone that an ant is crawling up her let. I hope kids, young and old are letting a few laughs seep into their four, socially distanced walls. I hope somebody can because I believe that a joke is a sign of hope.
As a teacher I was elated when April 1st fell on a weekend. I’m not a joking kind of person. I can never pull it off. I’m too serious. And in the classroom this seriousness could easily multiply. After all, we had important work to do. Plus, there was the control issue. What if things really got out of hand? Hey, lighten up .
I don’t like this about myself. Thank goodness I only think about it once a year on April 1st Nowadays every day feels like the weekend so even though today is a Wednesday, I let it go. There must be other was to demonstrate hope.
Here's a little history from Grammarly.com
It started with Constantine, a Roman emperor in the fourth century. The rulers of that period entertained themselves and their guests with “fools,” court jesters proficient in music, storytelling, acrobatics, or other skills. One day, a comedian joked that he would make a better king than Constantine. The emperor called his bluff and crowned the entertainer “king for a day.” The first thing the jester did was institute mandatory merry-making. Each year afterward on the anniversary of the jester’s kingship, the inhabitants of Rome remembered to have a little bit of fun with each other through jokes and pranks.
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