Monday, December 27, 2021

Disappearing and Re-emerging During the Pandemic

You would think that the pandemic, this time of pause, introspection, pulling inward, would result in more blog posts by me. I am honestly surprised by the complete halt to my blogging during this time. 

Certainly, there was no halt at all to my introspection. My self-care routine after the initial shut-down in March of 2020 included journaling both morning and evening, reading and writing poetry every day, plus yoga, daily walks, and reading texts of a spiritual and thought-provoking nature (Martin Buber and Parker Palmer were two of my favorites). My morning routine seemed to grow and expand with each passing day. I suppose it's no surprise I needed to up the ante on my self-care. As a teacher, there was a special brand of grief and loss to the shut-down and the shift to online learning. As the spouse of someone at high-risk, I interacted daily with a high level of anxiety.

Perhaps the very nature of the pandemic shut-down demanded so much drawing inward that there was nothing left for me to put out into the world. Now, as I engage in my annual ritual of re-reading my journals from the past year, I am acutely conscious of the perspective shift I have undergone. I knew I was experiencing this shift - knew it intellectually - but now I see how deep it went. And I am grateful. But those bone-deep changes require, and stem from, intensive inward pulling.

I've been a bit sick of hearing about the "gifts" of the pandemic shut-down. Perhaps I felt there was no need to add my voice to the mix. Maybe I didn't see the point in continuing to throw my verbal messages-in-a-bottle out into the ocean. In the end, though, I think the most compelling reason for my silence is this: I couldn't bear to spend one more moment of my life interacting with a computer screen.

As a teacher, my entire world shifted online. That daily heart-break left me spent and screen-depleted. I constantly craved interactions with nature and the 3D world. I desperately missed in-person meditation sits, walking the (now-defunct) labyrinth at Cerimon House, paddling with my dragon boat team, having coffee with friends, and, above all, sharing space with a classroom full of noisy kids and their magical energizing and exhausting presence.

Today, halfway through winter break of our return to in-person learning, I find myself emerging, blinking, wondering, reflecting. The first 4 months of this year were a tidal wave of personal and work challenges, combined with daily infusions of that blessed kid-energy. The world is still swimming in a global soup of apocalyptic catastrophe. And I'm still standing. Maybe it's time to re-engage.

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