I’ve been holding a question posed by life coach Martha Beck, who likened the pandemic’s ascendance to a tidal wave, wiping out the old ways of being. But, she offered, you could also think of it as a wave you could ride, like a surfer. What would it take to let go, have the courage topoint your surfboard over the lip of the wave and let gravity glide you to the shore?
Whether we’re surfing or floating or getting battered by the waves, we have all been in the water for months now, trying to regain some sense of balance and wrestling with our own questions. Since eradicating the virus will take time, how can we live with it for the foreseeable future? How can we learn to ride the energy of change? Can we land in a place where we can thrive?
Our natural instinct when faced with profound change is to tense our bodies and hold on tight. I keep reminding myself to keep “soft knees” — that is, aligning my inner and outer worlds as best I can and keep my breath and body relaxed as I ride the wave.
How do we keep soft knees? Evaluation and preparation.
As we continue to face new levels of infection throughout the United States and Europe, we each need to determine the level of risk we’re willing to take as new social situations arise, especially during the holiday season. In other words, we need to determine how we will evaluate the information available and make the best decision for ourselves and our loved ones in that moment.
These decisions are both external and internal:
- External: Decisions on where we go, how many people will we encounter, how much virus exposure we may have (open or closed areas, the quality of air circulation, etc.), how much time we’ll be in that situation and the degree of protection we choose (mask, gloves, etc.).
- Internal: Determining what is needed for solid, ongoing, supportive self-care, including how to minimize stress and what will support us over the long term.
As the holiday season approaches, we’ll need to prepare for our gatherings, especially when so many of us are craving normalcy and feeling pandemic fatigue. We are missing our loved ones, which is why it’s so difficult to re-image our multi-generational celebrations with family and friends traveling from afar to enjoy long-standing social rituals and traditions.
The decisions we face are difficult, but we also know that there will be an end to this — infection rates will decline and normalcy will return. In the interim, perhaps the most generous gift we can offer our loved ones this holiday season is to take appropriate preventive measures for small local gatherings and get creative with connecting and celebrating virtually.