The pandemic has changed many lives, some in the most direct, obvious and brutal fashion; other lives in more subtle ways. What confinement did was to take away many of the distractions, the “busyness”, the noise and the compulsive activity from our lives.
Things we tried to avoid facing like difficulties in relationships, difficult emotions and feelings, our fears, being alone, being with ourselves − all became difficult if not impossible to avoid. For many, the usual coping strategies like using alcohol or other substances to disconnect, to anaesthetise, in the absence of the usual impediments (drive, go to workplace, travel, work), led many to see they were dependent. Aspects of our lives went from grumbling discontent to full-blown crisis.
Things that seemed important stopped being important; also the contrary. For others, it became a time of reflection: Who am I? What do I truly want? What shall I do with my life?
These are not easy questions as we spend most of our lives dancing to the music of consumerism, the music of others, acquiring trinkets to inflate our fragile egos. It seems that so much of our lives is spent in the acquisition and maintenance of things that we think will make us look good, like a success in the eyes of others. In the words of Will Smith:
We buy things we don’t need
With money we don’t have
To impress people who don’t care.
Finding the answer to these questions is not easy but becomes impossible unless we first learn to simply be with ourselves in silence and without distractions.
To do this we must adopt an attitude of open curiosity, kindness to ourselves and sense of humour. Our work is to experience and integrate uncomfortable feelings, not avoid them.
We choose to allow life and all things to become our teacher. This approach to difficult situations allows us a greater sense of equanimity − a clearer and less distorted perception.
Whilst an intellectual understanding of interconnection is important, the real change comes through experience. I could tell you that all is connected. You might even believe it to be an interesting idea. However, to directly experience connection means that you “grok it” (understand it profoundly and intuitively). It changes you. It would be weird if it didn’t!
We are so fortunate to experience this life, to be conscious, to have senses; to be able to feel life in all its divine bittersweet intensity: to make that heart-connection with another, to be in awe, to feel wonder; to know what to drink a cool glass of water feels like on a hot day; to feel a refreshing breeze on your face after being in a stuffy room all morning; that unexpected smile or kindness of a stranger; watching the green leaves of a tree against a clear blue infinite sky as they tremble in the wind; the unrestrained laughing of a baby; the tough times that teach us so much; the heartbreak that makes us grow.
So I will leave you with the questions:
Who are you?
What do you really want?
What will your life mean?
With much love from Cantabria