(Not) Drowning in the C

By Posted in - Life on April 15th, 2020

In times of adversity, it is important to be strong within and sparing of words.

I-Ching: The Book of Changes (Richard Wilhelm, translator)

 

This month’s blog is by far the hardest I’ve had to write since I started these monthly instalments nearly five years ago. Not because of the bewilderment, the pain, or the fear related to what’s happening in the world right now. Those are all good, juicy topics that I could dig into with relish. It’s hard to write because of the saturation. There is only one subject these days, and it begins with a C. We are drowning in this C. Our arteries are clogged with it. Even our attempts to distract ourselves from it are, in the end, moored to the C.

Over the past weeks, I’ve read and heard so much about what I should be doing in this crisis: how I should behave, where I can and cannot go, what I should think. I’ve been exposed to an flood of online statistics, government proclamations, free art and activities, advice, tips, warnings, do’s and don’ts, meetings, hangouts, tutorials, and the subtle yet persuasive influence of what my friends are doing. Finding our flesh-and-blood routes cut off, we’ve poured ourselves into the virtual stream: well intentioned, trying to keep some semblance of meaning and structure and normalcy, wanting to continue to do what we do and stay connected. Personally, I feel like I’m drowning. And my instinct is that the best thing I can do is get to dry ground, sit there, and observe.

But a blog, by definition, needs regular updating. And so, fully aware of the irony of adding my drops to the very deluge I’m trying to avoid, here is what I have to say.

 

Grief

However successfully you may be navigating it, this situation is all about loss. Therefore, the Grief Protocol applies.

In the Grief Protocol, there are no rules. There is no right way to grieve. There are norms, and expectations: cultural, familial, religious. Screw ‘em. As long as you’re not endangering yourself or someone else, you can handle this as you choose. Please do not feel ashamed for not being productive or “rising to the opportunity.” Please do not beat yourself up for your lack of creativity. Nor should you feel guilty for finding the humor in it all, for feeling ok, for working more than ever, for getting on with it. Everybody grieves differently. Don’t expect others to mirror your coping strategy and don’t imagine their situation is the same as yours. Ease off. Listen a little more, talk a little less.

 

Worry

One of the hardest things about this situation is how much we don’t know about it. What is the truth? How will it play out? How long will we be in it? What will life look like in the aftermath? You could play so many films in your mind. Why not save your imagination for better things? Keep it for dreaming, intending, creating. If the film you’re watching gets very dark, turn it off. Do something real, something physical. Your survival instinct is already fired up because of what’s actually happening. Don’t let your imagination add fuel to the fire.

 

Fear

Real courage is not the absence of fear; it means feeling fear and agreeing to go on living in its presence. Fear is everywhere these days. Some of it is manufactured, some of it is natural and necessary. Know the difference. Be specific about what you’re really afraid of. Let yourself be quiet sometimes, even if that makes your fear more palpable. Watch and listen. Breathe fully and don’t give in to panic. Fear usually brings its friend Clarity to the party. Together they remind us of how much we love life, and how much we want to go on living it. So be afraid. And be well.

 


Elaine Konopka is the founder of The Attentive Body in Paris, offering private sessions in attention-based bodywork and pain management, and workshops on writing and conscious breathing. You can also find her on her YouTube channel dedicated to writing for wellbeing, The Write Thing to Do.

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(8) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Kathleen - Reply

    June 9, 2020 at 10:33

    Hello Elaine,
    I’m just catching up with your recent blogs, which always bring clarity and comfort. (Why didn’t I think to read them earlier? Go figure…)

    Lockdown has been like being marooned on a desert island surrounded by shark-infested water. Going shopping in my home-made mask was like navigating the sharks in a leaky boat. My own company became preferable to the curiously unsatisfying family video chats that failed to fill the void of human contact. Creativity was at minus zero. Yoga became my main activity of the day, making me feel I’d achieved something. Counting my breathing was calming, helping to centre me. I ate healthily. I lost weight.

    I read and watched too much news, obsessively keeping track of the mortality rates for France and the UK, in an attempt to feel on top of the situation. One of my brothers laughed when I explained I was gathering evidence to hold politicians to account. My anger at the UK government’s lies and mismanagement of the crisis grew day by day. It still does.

    I looked forward to clapping on my balcony every evening at 8pm, waving to neighbours I don’t know from the building opposite. I gave myself permission to do nothing, to re-read the classics, to take occasional one-hour walks through the deserted streets of Montmartre. In the evenings I watch South Korean TV series on Netflix, a welcome escape into another culture and country.

    Since May 11th I’ve cautiously emerged. The joy of seeing my son and my friends in person, of long walks down to the Seine, of morning coffee at a pavement café, of a glorious hike in the countryside has been tempered by the knowledge that the virus is still out there. But so are you! So thank you for making the effort to keep up your inspiring blog. Namasté.

    • Elaine - Reply

      June 9, 2020 at 20:42

      Dear Kathleen, your beautiful description of your lockdown experience almost makes me nostalgic. I think many stories will emerge from this crazy time. Thanks for sharing part of yours here. And thanks for reading, as always.

  • BB - Reply

    April 20, 2020 at 19:41

    Thank you, Elaine.
    I needed that…xo

    • Elaine - Reply

      April 20, 2020 at 20:05

      Thanks for reading!

  • The Celtic Eagle - Reply

    April 18, 2020 at 18:33

    “Fear usually brings its friend Clarity to the party.” And order out of chaos. “And my instinct is that the best thing I can do is get to dry ground, sit there, and observe.” Perhaps, the best way to experience this current storm, especially within the creative aspects of our states of being relative to humanity and beyond. So good to see your blog on track again. Be well.

    • Elaine - Reply

      April 18, 2020 at 18:39

      Thanks Jack! It’s good to be back.

  • Greg - Reply

    April 16, 2020 at 10:16

    Thank you for your bravery and courage to continuing blogging in the support of others. As always, it is welcomed and needed. I hope that you, in turn, are getting the support and care you need as well.

    • Elaine - Reply

      April 17, 2020 at 11:38

      Thanks Greg. I hope you and everyone you hold dear are doing all right. I am very lucky, surrounded by love and well supported. Thanks for thinking of me.

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