Sometimes, I’m slow (or preoccupied) and don’t notice things around me until they bop me over the head… or stare me straight in the face. Have you ever been day dreaming while driving and all of a sudden come back to the present moment and wonder how you got there? When these moments occur, pay particular attention to what you first see and notice.
The signs of the times are everywhere, if we can only notice. Ahhh. This lesson yet again. These particular signs did bop me over the head. I drove past them almost daily for a few months, until I finally saw the greater context.
The drive-through line at the bank, waiting to log-in to the zoom class/meeting, or anxiously awaiting the response from an email… there have been delays. I keep hearing the phrase “the new normal” and that this version of normal is certainly full of delays. Ever since the pandemic started last March, delays show up in unexpected ways. There have been delays in the grocery store shelves being restocked, delays in technology, and delays in hearing back from family members. Want to check out a library book? Delayed. Want to renew your drivers’ license? Delayed. What if I truly read this sign the first time I drove past it? Maybe then the delay in my husband finding employment wouldn’t have been a big deal; maybe the delay in having our yoga studio running smoothly would not have surprised me. The lessons of yoga ‘off the mat’ are accepting the new normal without resisting it. The notion of delays has heightened my awareness of how accustomed I have become to instant gratification… like Amazon Prime; order it online today and it will be on your doorstep tomorrow! While there is great joy in that quick turn around, there can also be joy in the waiting. I know this, and yet resist it at the same time.
Be Prepared to Stop!
If delays cause anxiety, this takes it to the next level. STOP! One of my nursing students has called this unplanned stopping “cosmic balancing”. Yes, we must be prepared to stop…
…Stop gathering in closed spaces, stop going mask-free in public, stop and smell the roses (or pumpkins and mums). Sometimes what makes me stop is general fatigue and the struggle to keep a positive attitude amidst the political and social divide. Add in the increasing darkness, and stopping puts me face to face with my dragons (real and imagined); the dragons of tolerating the consequences of being myself. Without the usual distractions of socializing and spontaneously visiting restaurants, museums, exhibits and such, stopping can be down right scary.
Perhaps it is cosmic balancing and we will look back on 2020 and see all the delays and stops as fruitful moments and an opportunity to recreate our own sense of normal.
Transforming Dragons by Rainer Maria Rilke
If only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
So you mustn’t be frightened… if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows, moves over your hand and over everything you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it hold you in its hand and will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you?