Greetings from the midst of The Great Slowing. In the last newsletter I sent out, I said that I’d put some videos up on YouTube for you. Little did I realize that a few days later the libraries would be closed, and physical distancing would take effect. As one of the many rural Ontario people who have zero access to Broadband, and are forced to get by with small amounts of shockingly expensive data, my hands are tied. I’ve never been able to upload anything from home, and I don’t have the data or the upload speed to be able to use Zoom. The last few weeks have been an exercise in dealing with frustration and the feeling of being left behind. We ran out of data earlier than usual because I mistakenly believed we were being allowed unlimited like everyone else, so I had to wait until the beginning of a new billing cycle to pop back online. And sometimes the slowing is literal, it can take ages to even send an email. It’s been hard to be forced into teaching “retirement” like this. But, at the same time, I am truly enjoying the rest.
I’m holding all of you in my thoughts and in my heart. I think all of us are oscillating between enjoying the spaciousness of having more free time and fear for our loved ones. Many of us have financial uncertainty, or have family members who are either out of work or working on the front lines, which is even scarier. All of our plans for the future are suddenly in doubt. And depending where we are in the cycle of worry, and how deeply we’ve been affected, advice can feel cheerful or like a slap in the face. I know I growl a little every time I read about how wonderful it is that the internet lets us continue interacting and working from home. So with that in mind, no advice from me.
I am grateful though for so many things. We still have food. We still have hydro. I’ve had time to clean up the gardens, work on my editing, and cook delicious meals (if I don’t say so myself lol). I’ve caught up on my sleep, and we’re working our way through the DVD set of “Six Feet Under” that my friend Mimi loaned me. I’ve gone for long walks, done lots of yoga, and my meditation practice has never felt better. But I’m equally aware that next week I may be camped on the couch with a bottle of gin and the potato chips that so far I’ve been resisting. Moods change, energy changes, our capacity to deal with grief waxes and wanes. The horror of this pandemic is very real. We can turn it off for a while, but something deep inside of us feels the suffering of others, including people we’ve never met, all over the world.
But I also feel hope. The toxic political rhetoric that’s been the status quo for the last few years has shifted. Our government leaders here in Canada has been cooperating and setting aside differences that felt unbridgeable just a few weeks ago. People have been helping one another, entertaining each other, volunteering and working really hard to come up with solutions. And another thing—the front line workers in health care, the cashiers, the cleaners, and the truckers are finally getting the recognition they deserve. I hope that when all of this is over, they’ll also be better paid and better looked after.
This great slowing is a chance for us to really look at ourselves and our values. If anything, I’m noticing that we really don’t need so much. We don’t need to be so busy. My personal goal for this time is to strive to stop striving. Slowing down can pull us more deeply into an awareness of the natural world, and an appreciation of how miraculous it is that the crocuses still come up and the robins are nesting, and the word-less mind of nature is expressing itself just as beautifully as ever.
My wish for you is that you’re resting, being gentle with yourself, and doing whatever you feel you need to do: whether that means reaching out or cocooning…or both…or neither. I’ve been remembering this old Irish saying the last few days, so thought I’d share it with you now. It’s a chestnut that’s survived many a disaster:
In life, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you are well or you are sick.
If you are well, there is nothing to worry about,
But if you are sick, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you will get well or you will die.
If you get well, there is nothing to worry about,
But if you die, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you will go to heaven or to hell.
If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.
And if you go to hell, you’ll be so busy shaking hands with all of your friends
You won’t have time to worry!
Get in touch if you need me,
Wishing you peace and love,
PS if you want to share how you’re doing in the comments below I’d be delighted to hear it