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When Your Head Is Socially Distant From Your Heart

There's a reason why you can't think straight right now.

Does anyone else feel like the working part of your brain has now shut down? Because all of American life is on hiatus, it only seems fitting that our brains are also on a break. 

In case you feel alone in your unintelligence, let me assuage your fears. My synapses are not firing right either. To further convince you, here’s an example of ten brainless things I find myself doing ten thousand times a day: 

Browsing online for cardigans. This would be an awesome use of my angst, if I liked cardigans.

Watching makeup tutorials on highlighting and contouring. I rarely wear makeup, nor do I own said highlighter and contourer.  

Signing up for a 30-day fitness challenge. I’ve run every day for the last 14 years. What will 30 days accomplish that 14 years haven’t?  

Ordering clear plastic retainers for my teeth. I’m an adult. Taking out a retainer to eat is embarrassing, say nothing about the lisp. 

Sweeping dog hair into geometric patterns. I’m fond of a star shape, but I also like trapezoids and triangles. Tomorrow I may try a mosaic. 

Fluffing up throw pillows. Really, that’s it. What is the point of fluffing up a fluffy pillow?

Turning my electric candles on, then off, then on again. They really are magic.

Shaving my legs. I’ve become a daily leg-shaver. What woman in her right mind does this? 

Adding whipped cream and chocolate sauce to every cup of coffee I consume. Is it a drink or a dessert? I don’t know, and I don’t care. 

Choreographing a dance routine to Taylor Swift’s, “We Are Never Getting Back Together” with my husband to reinforce social distancing practices. 

Honestly, there’s more, but you get it. There’s something else I want you to see.

There are times in life when it’s not that you don’t have anything to think about it — it’s that you have too much. It’s not that you’re not feeling — it’s that you feel too much. 

And what do people do when overwhelmed with their thoughts and feelings? 

They shut down. Contemplating our navel is the psyche’s way of curling up into a fetal position and saying, “That’s it. I surrender. I can’t process anymore.”

And that’s okay. Processing is overrated. Sometimes we need to distance ourselves from an emotion before we deal with it because we’re just not ready to feel it. This is our mind’s way of letting us stay socially distant from our feelings for a minute. 

I’m not always sweeping dog hair into a nativity scene in the living room.

Ten thousand other times a day my eyes are glued to a screen watching heroes wear hazmat suits; seeing brave nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals don their scrubs, masks and gloves to walk the frontlines of death and disease; listening to politicians announce one more way life as we know it is over.

I’m not distant then. 

I’m right there praying that the line of exponential growth will level off and turn down; praying scientists find an antidote, a medicine, a vaccine, something that will work; praying that the people I know and love will stay safe and stay home.

As a teacher, there’s nothing worse than not seeing my students, not laughing with them and telling them how much I like their new haircut or how their pants are purposefully distressed (ripped all over). I love watching them walk into school with their donuts, iced mocha lattes and today’s “fresh tea” to spill.  

They let me borrow their youth, and I let them borrow my pencils.

I wonder what today’s children will remember from this time. Will it be the schoolwork their teacher sent home? Will it be all the video games they played? Were there parents home with them for longer than they’ve ever been? Were they all in front of a tv together, or out hiking on a mountain side? 

Did they miss their friends like crazy? 

I wonder what I’ll remember from this time. Will it be how to make the shape of a three on my face when attempting to deepen my cheekbones and jawline, or will it be the moments when I allowed myself to feel fear, to feel grief, to feel love?

I’m hoping it’s the last. I’m hoping love wins.

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