Anti-Covidanxiety Toolkit #9
Please note: I've posted a list of all the tools in all the toolkits that I've offered so far. I'll update it each week. I'm having some trouble with the PDF of that list, promised for this week as well, but by next week I'll be sure to post a link for that as well.
Here we are, in the middle of May, and things continue to change for all of us in ways we couldn't have imagined a few months ago. And in ways that are radically different depending on where you live and what you do. Or don't do.
Most of us continue to need support to be brave, to be less anxious, to lean a little bit more into love. And so I continue to share these little pieces of hope, these tools, that have come to me over the years. They say you teach what you need to learn.
First a correction--or really an adjustment, to set the record straight. In Toolkit #6, in the "Accept your mortality" section, I said, "I have been a little surprised to find an acceptance of my own eventual death coming a little easier these days." As I've mused about that statement, I've realized that in truth it's more that I am able to acknowledge...for a few seconds...every so often, that I am going to die. Okay, to be fully honest I have to say it is an acknowledgement that I am likely to die. So, in all fairness I wouldn't say I have accepted my death. But still, it signals an important shift, and while scary, is surprisingly liberating. Now I can touch on the reality of my mortality and be present. At least for a few seconds.
Here are this week's tools.
Share stories. In Barry Lopez's powerful children's book, Crow and Weasel, (gorgeously illustrated by Tom Pohrt), he tells the story of two young men seeking new horizons--and life wisdom--in a time long ago when animals and people lived side by side and shared the same language.
After a long journey with many mishaps and adventures, and newfound wisdom from their encounters with tribes very different from their own, Crow and Weasel meet Badger. Badger teaches them how to best offer what they have learned along the way, how to best share their stories.
"The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them," Badger goes on to say. "If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other's memory. This is how people care for themselves."
So reading stories during these distressing times may not just offer distraction, though it certainly can do that very well. (And there is nothing wrong with distracting yourself from ongoing insanity and pain!) Reading or hearing the right story at the right time could even help you--your spirit--stay alive. Sharing that story with another may do the same for them. Sharing your own stories will certainly touch other people. And I have often found that when I write a story, originally meant to be shared with others, it nurtures and supports me even if it never gets out into the broader world.
Stories can point to our commonality, our humanness--something we so clearly need to foster in these days of division and fear. So be brave. Care for your stories. And share them.
Allow sadness. There is much grief in the world right now. Much loss, much pain, much fear, on personal as well as collective, national and international, levels. Holding it all in can lead to stress and tension, even illness. Tears, the close friend of compassion, can be a healing response. Washington Irving (of Rip Van Winkle fame) said, "There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of...unspeakable love."
If the tears are overwhelming, if they keep coming and coming and coming, it would be wise to seek support from someone who can help you find your way back from the deluge of that sadness. Don't be afraid to ask for comfort, from those who are able to give it. If you are afraid, as we all are sometimes--many times--see if you can ask anyway.
And of course, it is good to find comfort and companionship in sadness even if you aren't overwhelmed by grief.
When I was in a time of great sorrow in my life a number of years ago, I came across this poem by Sascha Wagner in a Compassionate Friends newsletter. Yes. Thank you.
When sorrow leaves your spoken words behind,
When only silence ponders in your mind,
When neither thought nor voice nor touching hand
can find an image or a language for your pain...
Then do be brave and let your tears explain.
Have courage. Allow sadness. Seek comfort.
Until next time,
Aziz Acharki, unSplash (cover image)
Tom Pumford, unSplash