How to get through this? You’ve done it before

Does anyone else feel like all the cards have been thrown into air and you have no idea how they’ll land?

 

I mean, suddenly ALL the questions are top of mind.

 

On a broad level I’m talking about things like “Will the economy ever recover? And “Will life as we knew it – fights, restaurants, and events, and SUMMER – ever resume?

 

But even more so, I am talking about the fact that this crisis has made me question EVERYTHING on a personal level too. All of the questions that I normally push to the back of my mind have surfaced big time:

 

Like “Do we want to stay in the city or make a break for the ‘burbs?” And “What do I really want to be when I grow up?” And, the one I hate most, “Does THAT person have it figured out?”

 

Whoa. 

 

What a time. What a pause. What a weight dropped upon us.

 

And, what an opportunity.

 

Working remotely and having our kids “schooling” remotely has given us all the feeling that we can go ANYWHERE. 

 

Woohoo! We can go anywhere! 

Oh shit, we can go anywhere.

 

This is a problem born out of priviledge, no doubt. It is hard to complain about too many options. But the fact is that sometimes limitations can be more comforting.

 

These days it feels like we are all operating at a steady simmer of unease, confusion, and overwhelm. There are so many unknowns and the rules that we normally live by keep changing. 

 

But here’s the thing: You know how to get through this. In fact, you’ve done it before. You’ve had these same questions arise with a lot of the same confusion, lack of control, and overwhelm. 

 

And it took a while, but you made it through to the other side.

 

Do you know when that was? When you had your first baby.  

 

Let’s go back even further. Remember before you had a baby when you thought you knew exactly what you wanted your life to look like? (That was so cute!) You wanted an exciting place to live, some adventure, some times to remember . You had ambitions and you worked to achieve them.

 

And then came baby. And everything was called into question.

 

Like – what is truly important to me? Is it this job that I’ve been working so hard to excel at or is it staying home with baby? Where should I raise this baby? Near the grandparents I’ve spent the last 10 years distancing from? And who am I again? What happened to the  laid back cool girl, and who is this micro-manager who has surfaced?

 

Remember that? Well, there’s something you did then that we can learn from now:

 

You gave it time. 

 

You realized you had to put aside looking for answers in order to care for the baby. And, as the strain of those first months lifted you revisited the questions slowly and cautiously. 

 

You didn’t rush it. You knew you were still fragile and tender. You knew you were very similar to the baby who needed a whole lot of patience, cuddles, and soft singing.

 

You lived with the questions for a while and you slowly let the images of your next steps appear to you on their own. It wasn’t something you could solve right away. You had to live with the fear of simply not knowing.

 

It might have been painful. It might have brought a period of depression and hopelessness. It certainly brought a newfound respect for a long shower, a full night of sleep, and some eggs florentine on a Saturday morning, back when you called 12pm morning.

 

But your life was changed forever. And eventually your priorities felt more clear, you felt more human, more alive, more connected to every child, every parent, and every being out there.

 

You did it then, and you can do it again now.

 

The trick here, as it was then, is to find the courage to sit in the questions. To really cozy in to this deep pillowy seat of unknowns and breathe deeply.

 

One difference, which may be a bit comforting, is that we’re all having this baby together. You don’t need to look far to find your mama tribe and ask about the baby’s color of poop, you just need to hop on Zoom.

 

This week I listened to the latest episode of the podcast “On Being.” In it, Krista Tippet talks to Davendra Banhart about Pema Chodron’s book “When Things Fall Apart.” 

 

Since then, I’ve been reading every sentence of the book as if it is an instruction manual for this time. Here’s an excerpt  from  this beautiful book:

 

“Anyone who stands on the edge of the unknown, fully in the present without reference point, experiences groundlessness. That’s when our understanding goes deeper, when we find that the present moment is a pretty vulnerable place and that this can be completely unnerving and completely tender at the same time.”

 

So guys, let’s sit with this together. Let’s accept the unknown and the groundlessness with the knowledge that it will lead us to a more beautiful place.

 

“What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear and looking it right in the eye – not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking.”

 

How are you dealing with all the questions? Or maybe you don’t have them? We want to know! Comment below.

 

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4 thoughts on “How to get through this? You’ve done it before”

  1. I’m doing the laundry. Haha that’s how I’m dealing with all the questions. Doing the laundry gives me clear, straight forward tasks to accomplish and physically see the progress and completion of the tasks. Laundry is concrete in a time of abstracts. While doing the laundry I can give myself time to contemplate questions or just feel whatever emotions I’m having, because laundry doesnt take a lot of thinking power or energy to do (for me at least). I try not to think beyond what is happening day to day and try to trust that we’ll figure out what happens next as we need to.

    1. Anna I love that. You make doing laundry seem so appealing 🙂 I agree menial tasks like dishes, sweeping, wiping, they help us stay grounded in the moment while allowing us fleeting moments to daydream and let our thoughts have space. Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Long loved this book. Thanks for the reminder of that quote. So powerful. Carrying it with me this week.

    1. It’s so good. I liked how Davendra said in the episod: Keys, phone, this book, as you leave the door. Listen to the podcast you’ll love it.

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