I am powerless

I was depressed all day yesterday with the shock and grief of what’s happening to social disconnection and panic in response to the alien invasion, the pandemic, of coronavirus.

I couldn’t understand my feelings of being powerless, couldn’t even talk about them. I blamed and shamed myself for being weak and self-centered. I was thinking of my funeral yesterday, which I thought was a very weird and self-centered thing to be doing, yet it is a normal, natural response to the threat of extinction. This is very painful and yet seems to be necessary for our maturation as a species. I ended the day by working in the garden, which is my therapy of last resort. I prepared one of our raised beds for planting snap peas, much to Valerie’s delight. She is so ready to plant the seeds. Then I got a solid 8 hours of sleep last night. Fortunately, I have an appointment with my sponsor today, because he asked me to come in. He’s been doing that lately, not waiting for me to call him, which is unusual. I think we all need sponsors, mentors, like that, people who check up on us.

I have so much to say, now. Writing is my therapy of first resort, very heady stuff. Singing and dancing — the heart stuff — is my next go-to, and then silence — deep, wordless experience of breathing moment to moment, in my body, meditating, surrender, waiting for seeds to sprout — and I can go no further, that’s it, I’m done.

OY VEY was my first gut response to public panic because is seemed so overblown, unreasonable and pervasive. So, yeah, I became pissed that this situation is at hand, and many people have been expecting that somewhere, somehow, some intractable disaster would be coming, whether it be climate chaos, economic chaos, or political chaos, or all of it all at once, which is what actually seems to be happening, an all-systems breakdown. It is very weird that our gas fireplace pilot flame and our gas range spark igniter have simultaneously failed, as if there were a coherence of physical systems in harmony with the psychic chaos.

We just didn’t know exactly when or in what form this chaos would come. The flu pandemic is actually fairly mild and slow-moving compared to other possibilities, and worse may be what we need to wake us up to what we have being doing to ourselves for many, many years. 

I suggest that this unfolding of events is an opportunity to learn about systemic impact of fear. We are all suddenly being made aware of the contagion of fear, that is more powerful than the coronavirus itself. To be able to respond, to be response-able, is to willingly march forward with full-dress courage and invite people to join the parade. There are reasonable, practical, simple, available and well-known preventative measures against contagion which can be part of that marching, and should in no way stop the march.

Compared to a war, this is one battle. This is a trial of our strength to do our very best, and we have no choice but to do our very best now, not later. That best has to include self-care, also! … and a contingency plan for the loss of one battle so that the war is not lost in the long game…. and faith that doing the right thing will be supported by the larger context, whatever one may wish to name it. I have a sense this is already happening, more quickly than we realize. 

What’s being called for is a generation of multiple possible creative strategies. A good question may be “what is it that is wanting to be born, come forth, in this moment?” All the suggestions for social distancing and cancellations of events are making us acutely aware of our need for social connection and how deeply powerful is that need. I think video chats will be very useful in the days to come and hope the internet has the bandwidth to handle the demand for group gatherings or conferences.

I am not feeling particularly “powerless” today, now that I’ve begun to talk about my feelings. The concept of powerlessness is widely held in the 12-step recovery programs of which I am a part. It is a statement of humility about our inability to control other people and situations — originally alcoholism — and applicable to many, many other “isms,” all of which are distractions from our core mission as human beings on this planet. What I am able to control is my RESPONSE to those “isms,” and my power to consistently respond in a way that is compassionate for myself and my brothers and sisters is my true power.

It is not power in the traditional sense of being able to move things, situations and people directly, as if I had some magic lever, LOL. It’s the power of trying to be a pathfinder. Failure is part of the journey. I have very little assurance that I have formed a path for others to follow. All I know is that it works for me. I still know which way is “north,” and I don’t need Google Maps to tell me. I know where I’m going, where I want to go.

If I may venture a guess, YOU have the same power, brothers and sisters! The constant companion to the ownership of that kind of power has to be the sense that there is no other kind of power that is real, that we are indeed powerless to control things, situations and people outside of ourselves, and that trying to do so will (and does) make us CRAAAAZY! 🤪😱👿  For so many years now I have been in training (12-step recovery) to not wallow in the stages of grief (anger, fear, confusion, sadness, self-pity) and yet I will never be completely free of grief in all circumstances, nor should I be. I am human, thank you very much.

We ARE in a classic grief response situation, and yes, I have felt a seething rage at our naive bumbling as a nation and planet, and had to forgive myself for wanting to fix, manage and control what is really inevitable. I am so delighted that a few minutes ago a long-time associate in the peace movement invited me to connect with her via a phone call. She’s in New York City, her husband is in dialysis waiting for a transplant, which will compromise his immune system, and SHE was consoling ME! 🤪 😍🥰  All of us are in the space of creating better ways to authentically connect with each other.

 My friend suggested I take a breather. Yes, a breather, literally! Sit and breathe, stand and breathe, walk and breathe, sing and breathe, rest and breathe… be grateful and breathe…. I remember the last 100′ of climbing a mountain was exactly like that because the air was so thin. For each step forward, many breaths.

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