A fickle first day of spring
What a full day, and yet tumbling. The sun, just now before setting, streams golden light down the valley, filling the room with warm shadows of the trees outside.
The evenings blue sky with just enough moisture to pick up the yellow, not quite defining the rays, but giving the sky a glow and general ambience of warmth.
This moment is a welcome balm after a rather unsettling first day of spring…
The governor last night requested that we all stay home unless absolutely necessary.
I woke in the dark, praying that it was early morning, only to find the clock reading just a few minutes after midnight. I did not sleep soundly again.
Morning arrived, the new care partner having found obstacle in her path had not been able to follow through and come to train and observe today. Anyone who is practicing this new “social distancing” understands the perplexity that we are going through, each of us as we attempt to adapt our routines, attentions, and values to this strange context.
Our native care for one another, confounded by the explicit recognition that anyone could be some kind of “attack vector” for this virus that threatens to infect so many of us, and will kill some portion of those… Anyone, loved one or stranger could be the bearer of this invisible assailant.
Indeed, we must care for one another, but our familiar ways of touching, coming close, and nurturing – so many of them anyway – are now off the table. We are invited to creativity.
That was the mode with which I rose – a sense of commitment and aspiration to creativity. Today I would finish scripting an introductory video and launch a vulnerable but sincere campaign to crowd fund a bridge across the abyss at my feet.
I would not be distracted, I would be clear and firm, I would address the management of responsibility, clearing my plate and my path to reach out for help.
This spring had other plans.
“2020 has hit us like a fist.” Said a consultant in Singapore amongst oil traders and analysts. I read this in my morning newsletter today. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll recognize the sentiment.
I don’t feel quite that assaulted today, but certainly not entirely centered either.
The morning clerical passed easily enough, a few encouraging conversations with friends, and a telemedicine appointment which left the doctor much more satisfied with my condition and in fact recommending we waive my scheduled tests next week in favor of staying clear of public places and with luck, the virus.
The financial outlook was a bit more narrow than I had anticipated, but manageable, for now, nonetheless. As planned, I was able to finish the morning, in a sense, in stride and move towards what I imagined was the important creative work of the day.
I spent an hour advancing that project before turning my attention to a zoom video call with a couple of dear friends who had invited me “to chat.” I had sensed there was something more to the invitation, and when I arrived to the conversation I found the intent seemed really to be to inquire about how they might be of help to me in the current iteration of my journey.
In a plain sense, that question seems today a bit easier asked than answered. I did my best, and did most of the speaking for the 100+ minutes of our call, narrating the view from where I’m standing today, both forward, present, and rearward looking. In that story, such as it is, there’s not a lot I have learned, at this point, to ask in concrete terms.
Drafting the project of the crowdfunding initiative is really a practice for me in exercising that nascent skill of asking for help in a clear and meaningful way.
Outside of that container of practice, it’s just rare glimmers I’ve been able to get of where someone could actually step in and do something direct and clearly helpful. This is of course not say that there haven’t been many helpful people, indeed there have, staying up late when I am sick, arriving early to help me up, all of the cooking and cleaning and nursing and caring and shopping and laughing and storytelling and document reviewing and comment making and brainstorming and offering guidance and encouragement, and a thousand things I forget to mention, but these are the precious exceptions to my otherwise clumsy approach to a generative reciprocity that leaves us all more wealthy in its wake.
In spite of myself, it seems, I enjoy a great deal of lovingkindness, care, help, and support.
The trick, and the kosmic ask it seems, is now for me to learn to open those channels of engagement of giving and receiving with grace in a more conscious, intentional, and generative way.
I feel a little like a sprout, awake to its growing nature, aware of its vulnerability, but yearning, insisting, longing, and reaching in fact for the sun.
In the absence of any concrete ask, the conversation left me feeling a little sick to my stomach, having failed to gain a sense that I was connecting to my audience in any way that would give them grasp of a meaningful response way to respond and care.
I left the call feeling nauseous and disconnected.
Moments later, I would take another hit.
This time with a new acquaintance, someone I call friend, but do not know well and do not know if I will know them longer if they are but a passing apparition in the mists of this journey.
As I attempted to orient myself to the feeling in my body on the work in front of me, I saw that I had missed a call on my phone sometime before from the woman who had been unable to come this morning for training. I rang her back and she answered.
On the other end of the line I found loneliness, despair, heartbreak, and uneasiness, and all of that before the blows of this pandemic. The woman I found was as much in need of loving care and struggling to fit herself in the role of offering it.
With so much on my plate, so much to do here, and now feeling pressured by my physical state and tiredness, I imagined as I get on the call that I would be clinical and quick to excuse myself. Instead I found myself confronted with my own sense of principled compassion. Where do we go, where to return when we find one another broken open and vulnerable in front of us?
I think this is a relevant question. I think more of us right now in our acute condition of pandemic are broken open and vulnerable in ways and to degrees then we recognize, or in fact have even learned to know.
Recognizing the mirror of my own community and fragility I shifted gears. Realizing the need for my own heart to open, I stepped forward to listen, to speak, and to learn. The conversation carried on for nearly an hour, and at the end I was reeling, but grateful to have been able to be a friend in a moment of need.
Dazed and disoriented I turned back to my project, but rather than the mornings determination I had imagined, I found only despair and a broken faith that I would have anything of value to say or to ask by way of help from a wide field of others.
I stumbled drunk for a moment from email to conversation with Caroline, to Facebook, and back to the task, and away again…
Landing finally on Facebook.
When I rose this morning and came to my desk, I found the Facebook page open to the post I had made last evening asking my community, “if I were to speak in presentation, what would you like to hear me speak on?”
I was overwhelmed with delight to find that overnight that post had generated a rich array of many responses, all of them encouraging, some more specific than others, but in total a tremendous resource and gift of clear invitation to offer meaningful value to people I loved.
Returning to that as a source of nourishment and inspiration, I decided to jump into the untested and unfamiliar waters of doing a Facebook live by simply reading a few pages from my journal – seemingly into the digital void.
The task came easily, if a little clumsy in the presentation, but natural. Part way through as I gazed into the camera, reading from the open file on my desktop, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that people were actually present in real time – I had not expected this as I had no idea how they might find their way to this little corner of my page. There they were, Kelly, Julie, Mary, all smiling and encouraging me onward.
I completed the broadcast and finished publishing a little lightheaded with the cheer of a friendly engagement. A moment later I was on a spontaneous video chat with my friend Kelly whom I haven’t spoken with in years as she serendipitously just back from a morning bike ride in (Southern I think) Australia.
Her bright and smiling face, energized from the effort, and filled with cheer met me in the delightful simplicity of human camaraderie. Thank you Kelly, I think you made my day. 🙂
In any case, this first day of spring was not at all what I expected, I still feel as though I’m walking a tight rope through the vast cosmic expanse, but have ensured these words, at least I feel a little better now I think. I’ve managed to nudge a few things forward, and I’m ready now, at peace, to rise again tomorrow and meet the world anew.
God gets to know things, we just get to ask questions…