This space is a gift, if taken as such.
Didn’t we ask for space?
No? Then what was all that bitching about work? All that exhaustion and grumpiness and sleeplessness and pain. All that drama and self medication.
We weren’t asking for some time to slow down, to rest and reconnect? Well, that’s what the universe heard.
See, she works on undercurrents, on subtleties. She listens to the subtext, the words we speak to our secret selves. She’s the one that hits you with a bad back when you’re overworked. Or knocks you with a cold for a week.
A part of us wants to settle into it so bad. The subtle part, the quiet voice that whispers on the phone in the pantry, so the pusher can’t hear. Because what kind of person just wants to rest, and do nothing, and sit in their own presence. That person is going nowhere, obviously.
Behind the back of the pusher, the universe and the subtle voice conspired. Together they created this space.
The loud voice is furious. It is still pushing, because to push is all it knows. Now it is yelling, trying to get back to its way, trying to get attention, but no one can listen anymore, even if they wanted to. If we could obey then it would stop yelling. But this space is required. We earned it, globally, as a people pushed to the brink.
Pushed by fear. Fear to miss out. Fear to be worthless. Fear for survival. Fear is the reason we push, the reason we are here, and the reason this is all so hard.
But the quiet ones have taken over. And they are whispering for the pusher to rest. They are saying, now is our time, please don’t fill this space with fear.
Every change of direction takes a pause. Momentum stops, if only for an imperceptible blink. A ball going up slows at the top. Inhalation ends before air rushes out. In that space is great potential. Great energy waiting to be released.
I am uneasy with this shift. Not as uneasy as others. Social distancing is familiar to me. I am an introvert, I am a writer. I have no one relying on my attention or income, not many bills. I live on a beautiful land where I can wander and walk. We have water tanks, propane to cook. I’m not opposed to washing my butt with water. I’m pretty set.
And I’ve sat alone a lot. On boats, on busses, on meditation mats. But still I am a little scared of myself without structure. Will I live up to the potential this space offers? Or will I waste it?
I know I have great potential to self-motivate, to accomplish on my own, as we all do. But I’ve also been avoiding it, as we all do.
So I sit on the edge of this pure pool of potential, dangling my legs and pondering the pause, where I must suddenly reconfigure my days and my projections of finances and scheduling and social advancements.
And a huge part of me rejoices. Introverts rejoice! A break from the social pressure that tugs our attention from masterpieces. A break from FOMO which makes us wonder if we are living wrong by staying home. Everyone is an introvert now. We shyly and silently roar a victory chant.
We hope for the world that it will get a taste of the wonders of space. That JOMO (Joy-Of-Missing-Out), will gain ground against FOMO (Fear-of-Missing-Out.) We hope it for their sake, because we know its beauty, and for ours, to gain some respect in a land of loud achievements.
Another part of me smirks. This is what I asked for a year ago when I made my excuses why I wasn’t writing. I defined what I would need. How much money, what kind of home. Just this week, I hit it all. And just like that, I have no work, no play, and no more excuses.
Still I fear. Will try to dominate this space with expectations? Will I push out all the pure potential with lofty goals? Will I be able to sit strong and calm with the uncomfortable unknown and let it carry my where it should? Like any new life, like any adventure. I don’t know what it holds or who I will be at the end. That is scary.
I breathe. Do not pollute this pure pool. Do not fill this space with fear.
You are not working. Here is your work.
Look at yourself, be still for a moment. You may never get this chance again. You may never take this chance for yourself. Maybe it is a chance you never wanted.
A government-enforced self reflection. Has the government ever done anything so grand?
This space is a mirror. Why is it so uncomfortable to sit with yourself? Look at that. Dwell on that, not on your “flaws” or your cravings.
This is like any first date. It is awkward. But if you never push through the discomfort, you will never know yourself, and you will never be able to honor yourself.
Don’t you want to live your life? Eventually. Don’t you want to know what you want?
This may be your only chance…don’t fill this space with fear.
Fill it with…effort. Fill it with…reflection, adventure, novelty. Fill it with realized potential.
The change you’ve wanted to make. The book you’ve wanted to read…or write.
Notice, in this space, what actually holds you back. Work? Stress? Habits?
Break habits. Shatter routines. What else have you got to do?
This space is full of potential, like any new life. It is also scary, like any unknown. And, like any journey, it will transform. But only if…we accept it, we let it be, we don’t fill it with distraction, with fear.
A pause like this could mean nothing to a country so habituated to stress and worry. Those forces that keep us working, buying, and avoiding ourselves. We could take this space and so easily fill it with what we’re used to, the business of fear as usual. We could just power through at normal speed and let it be an anxious few weeks. And nothing could change.
Or we could take it for what it is. Pure space, unlaced. And everything could change.
And that is scary.
Because what if, after two weeks of calm, of surrendering to a new pace, of remembering what it’s like to read a book, or paint your passion, or build a fort with your kids, or cook for hours with your lover, you start to wonder, “Could I go back?”
Maybe, because you took the opportunity and you did the work, you see how good you can feel, how relaxed. How you sleep a little better, how your body feels lighter, how maybe you smile more.
And what if, in this cloud of peace, you start to wonder, “Why do I work so much? Could it be different? Could I spend more time with myself?”
” Well sure…if I had less bills.”
So you sweep your life, and you realize you can streamline and shed some of those luxuries you thought you needed. They were mostly medications for stress after all. And with this lifestyle change, you need less medication.
Then it’s still not enough, because now you’re down to the basics and the numbers still hold you to the grind. You almost accept it, as you always have, because it’s just what we do here. We work to live. It is the norm. Who are you to crave a different lifestyle?
But you’ve come too far, you feel too good. Too…human. So you wonder, ”Why should I have to push so much?”
You start to look at the system and how it is set up, and then at other systems and how they are set up. You see some who work less, with benefits, or a living wage or rent control. Or you see people who have moved away, into little shacks or vans or boats, where what they lack in luxury, they make up for in silence, peace, smiles.
Now here is the danger. You are exploring options. You are seeing that there is something else out there, besides worry. But worry is essential to our culture, more inherent and ingrained than religion. It is the oil in the gears of our economy. And if achievement is the doctrine, relaxing is heretical.
The danger of this space is that we might get used to it. We might change a little, see things different, and then return to before, even more depressed as we get back into the swing of things.
Or we might call for a remodel.
And remodels are messy. Revolutions are uncomfortable (to say the least). But comfortable is not enough anymore. Not after the space we’ve tasted.
We might shake down the walls, demand a great rebuild. Redesign a system where stress is not required to survive. Where the desire to feel a little less despairing is not so radical. Where a peaceful lifestyle is not only normalized, but supported. Where we have the right, especially in such a wealthy country, to not always be at the end of our rope.