I don’t know about you, but I can’t handle one more tip for getting through this pandemic. The days meld into each other and I have to look at my calendar to figure out the date. I keep track of days of the week by keeping up my exercise routine. I swing from gratitude and hope to sitting on my sofa staring out the window wondering if this will ever end and our little consulting business will have our phones start ringing again and life return to the hustle and bustle we once cursed. The days seem like liquid mercury – put a stick in the middle of the silvery puddle, and it will scattershot in a thousand directions and then it quickly comes back, pooling together as if nothing ever happened.
It’s times like these that make us want to hide. And in very short shifts, that’s OK. We all have sadness and loss right now. We are all grieving different things – planned trips and outings, birthdays, graduations, and more. My At The Gate Blog (www.toriisolutions.com/blog) is full of articles from me and my business partner, about taking time away and finding gratitude. Hopefully, we have built up a reserve of wellness and gratitude, like a savings account, through the good times to draw upon now. I find the reserves welling up in me, unconsciously rising to the surface when I need it – like a shot of adrenaline during a race to allow me to push through.
As a history buff (okay, geek) I find myself reminded of the Revolutionary War Patriot Thomas Paine. The Crisis pamphlet was written in December 1776 – when snow and ice and scarce resources – were starting to crowd out the fireworks and ringing bells of the Declaration of Independence and the warmth of summer. There are a lot of parallels to our current situation.
The last 10 years have been relatively good to many of us. Our 401k portfolios, salaries, home prices and disposable income have all rebounded from the crash of 2008. War and strife has been a distant thing we can watch on the news and then go about out business. It has been easy to be disengaged with anything uncomfortable. Concepts of “wellness” and “health” and “gratitude” have been ethereal and theoretical. Trendy. Bandwagon enthusiasm.
As good old Tom Paine reminds us, bandwagon enthusiasm leads to “summer soldiers” and “sunshine patriots” – those folks who get swept up in the thrill of the moment or are willing to put their lives on the line when things are quiet, going well and everyone has sufficient rations. When holes start appearing in shoes (or the paper products aisle in every single store in town is bare!) those folks tend to get bounced off the back of the bandwagon.
THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
Those of us who treat gratitude and wellness with the respect and dedication it deserves, and take it as seriously as if our lives depend on it, now have that deep reserve well to draw on. We have that consolation. We are secure in the knowledge that we have trained for this moment. This is our marathon. This is our Ironman. This is our Mount Everest. We have the endurance and ability to scale this emergency because we have been practicing, and training and filling our wells with deep reserves so that gratitude flows – maybe not easily or 100% of the time – we still get fearful and anxious for our families and businesses, but we are strong and know the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph.
We also have the ability, since we are running on reserve energy, like a battery, to be able to recharge others. We have the ability to offer help, to volunteer – and our immune systems are probably stronger too! Research shows those who take wellness, meditation and gratitude practices seriously, have less inflammation and greater ability to resist illness and when it does come, to bounce back faster.
In this crisis, we have the ability to stand up for those around us who are not as strong. I personally have felt this. My lifelong work at finding gratitude and leaning on my faith has continually bubbled up in anxious moments. I am able to focus on others as well as myself. I am able to find many, many things I am grateful for in my life.
Even as I sit at home, watching clients and projects fall away, I am so grateful for technology that allows me to stay connected to my family and friends. Technology is not something I am a huge fan or consumer of, or thought I would ever be grateful for! But, it is allowing William and I to stay connected and focused on our business even though we are locked down in two different states on opposite ends of the country! What a blessing! Technology allows me to continue to write and share through this blog and other platforms. What a blessing! What if this pandemic had hit the world 20 or 30 years ago? We would not have the technology to stay at home and work from home and the economic and human toll would be infinitely higher.
Another thing I am deeply grateful for – even as I do chafe against it on some extra quiet evenings – is the simplicity practice I am gaining from this stay at home order. Paine goes on to say in American Crisis that “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”
I have been reading through a little book during Lent for over 20 years on the gift of simplicity. But it is this crisis that has really allowed me to understand what true simplicity is and how it can look in the modern world. Stripping away all the distractions of life and the speed of the 21st century has brought many of us back to a place of simple joys and tasks. A place where gratitude and wellness can more easily grow and flourish. A time and place where we all are taken back to what is most important in this life – family and health and human life over commerce.
The 21st century has brought many miracles and fantastical things to our every day lives – things that 100 years ago were science fiction. But in some ways, it has allowed us to obtain things very cheaply, throw them away easily and esteem things and people far too lightly.
I hope this crisis strengthens all of us, our communities and our nation. I hope it brings us back to a common identity as interconnected and stronger together. That we esteem people and health in the highest form possible. That we do not easily cast aside these lessons when this pandemic is over and we “return to normal.” I hope we will continue after this crisis to believe that we are all in this life together and stronger and better when we get through it together.
Grace & Peace ~ Carrie Ann