This month, we’re encouraging “patience.” And I’m sure you know why. As the title says, we’re in this for the long haul. And when I say “we” I mean the whole entire planet. And when I say “this” I mean the global pandemic known as the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Can y’all believe that? We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Together. The entire human race. We are officially sick as a family.
A few days ago, it was announced that the social distancing order is being extended throughout April. What this means is that most of us, who have already been shut away in our homes - away from friends, family, coworkers and the majority of civilization - will have to continue in this manner for another full month. To be honest, this doesn’t surprise me one bit. And it shouldn’t surprise you. Viruses are not human beings. They don’t have anything to lose by spreading to every person on this planet, thereby incapacitating society.
When faced with a situation like this, it’s easy to see why people will exhibit the very opposite of patience. Most of us are used to being able to go wherever we please, whenever we please and with whomever we please. However, the more people choosing not to social distance, the longer this virus will continue to spread and infect vulnerable populations - which is terrifying. Also, it’ll extend the time that we’ll all be bored in the house and be in the house… bored. In this instance, patience is going to literally mean the difference between life and death for ALL of us.
So here’s the deal, spending twenty-four hours with no distraction from your spouse, child, parent, friend, roomie or whoever you share your space with is gonna be tough. And for those of us who live alone, it may even be tougher attempting to battle your thoughts or your loneliness. However, this is the perfect time to be intentional about building our patience muscle because patience is going to have to do some serious lifting in the next few months.
Of course, offff fricking course, I’m going to recommend meditation to help build this muscle. There are a ton of apps, websites and social media pages that you can find online that can help you to build a meditation routine and that also provide free meditation tips and support. Additionally, you can follow us on Instagram and join us as we do some guided meditations on IG Live. Trust and believe the resources are out there.
That said, I want to call attention to the foundation of building patience….
That’s right, fellow control freaks. This is not your show. It is Miss Corona’s show and she is going to be here as long as it takes for all of us to get the message. Now I’m in no way taking any of this lightly. Viruses are a serious thing and what we’re going through right now is not only scary, it’s never been experienced by anyone living today. I get it. That said, the changes that we are seeing in the world are profound because it is forcing many of us to see how fast things can change in our lives. Additionally, it is forcing many of us to see what is in our jurisdiction of control and what is not.
The guy across the street, who refuses to cover his mouth when he coughs…. not in our control. The lady at the grocery store touching her face… she don’t belong to you. She belongs to these coronavirus streets. And the streets are out of your jurisdiction. The only thing we can all do is follow the rules as laid out by the experts and hope that eventually, everyone will be on the same page. When will that happen? We don’t know. How will that happen? We don’t know that either. But the point is not to worry. The point is to have patience. Because if you can not sit still, you will not survive this. (And I mean that on a mental level, but it also applies physically because mental always comes before physical).
Many of us have been using our free time to pick up hobbies, binge our favorite TV shows and movies, connect with friends, and engage in fun social media trends. I don’t know about you but I’ve found it comforting that people are using this sudden shutdown of society to do things that feed their spirit. Personally, one of the things that I’ve been doing to ease my mind amid the craziness, is read. I’ve been reading a book about (don’t judge me but…) the plague. I’ll get into more of that later. (Yes, I know I’m weird). Others of us have used this time to shame others into being ‘productive.’
Now let’s get into that for a little bit before I tell y’all about my plague book.
STOP SHAMING PEOPLE INTO BEING PRODUCTIVE!
Productivity is relative. It’s relative, guys. What that means is that it is arbitrary. A construct defined by individuals, dependent on various situations and/or factors. We are all in the middle of a global crisis. Being productive does not mean the same thing for every single person right now. For some of us, being productive means keeping our mental state together. For others, it means talking to a sick family member. If you see this time as nothing more than an unexpected writer’s retreat than good for YOU. However, do not pressure other people to conform to whatever your idea of productivity is. In this time, I beg you to have patience with other people who may find this situation harder than you are finding it. Extend grace to those who are having a bit of trouble adjusting to this new (and very abnormal) normal. Release your sense of control over anything that lies outside of your jurisdiction. We are all coping in different way. Have patience with others and with yourself (because if I’m keeping it all the way real, some of us are talking to a mirror with all this ‘be productive’ business).
All right, so let me tell y’all about my little book I’m reading. It’s about the Black Plague and is called The Great Mortality by John Kelly. So far I’m only a few chapters in, but one of the things that stood out to me the most about this book has been the fact that the book’s author implies that mental/physical wellness could’ve been a contributing factor to the black plague’s mortality rate. Many times the plague hit societies after a particularly traumatic experience. So people during the Middle Ages, already weakened by social collapse, war, famine, etc. had especially weak immune systems that couldn’t withstand illness. This, of course, led to higher death rates. Now I don’t say this to scare anyone. But I do say this because I want to emphasize that anything you can do right now that’s going to boost your mental wellbeing… I encourage you, to do it. If exercise helps to get you going, find yourself a good routine and get to work. If it’s chatting with friends, give them a call. If movies are your life, indulge. Try to find what brings you joy, peace and life in these moments and do not feel guilty about it. You are allowed to cope in whatever way you see fit. You are allowed to rest. Sleep in. Relax. Your body will tell you what it needs in order to battle this situation. It knows more than you think. So trust yourself. And for the love of all that is good and pure and holy, define productivity for your own damn self!
We are in uncharted territory folks, but I have a feeling we’re all going to get through this as a stronger, better and more patient people. Stay safe, stay well and stay home.