The bright side of hitting rock bottom is that the only way to go is up. Down we fell, and up we look. The stars in the night sky never shone brighter. We were too busy spinning the wheel, greasing the cogs, that we hardly ever noticed anything, not even what was right under our noses. Yes, you and I had everything planned and now the uncertainty is all there is, or so you say. But I disagree. Uncertainty has always been there. If anything, the difference is that now you cannot pretend it isn’t there. You have to acknowledge it. The only thing that makes life relevant is the fact that we all are going to die. Some of us had not stopped to think about that. Every second counts. What we take with us in the end is the lived experience, not the balance in our bank accounts, not the fancy clothes, not anything material. This idea has been used to sell us all kind of rubbish and so here we are with a want for a life that we never asked for, and a desperate sense of missing out on consumerism. We have been taught to fear what is inside of us; hence we rush inside our homes to keep ourselves occupied…
But my story gets worse (or does it?) Oh, the nightmare of being with myself, no broadband internet, no telly! What do I do, then? How am I not falling into despair? Tragedy, comedy, drama, there has always been a pinch of each in my diet. I never thought my odd relationship to death was going to be helpful. How am I coping with the current global health/economic/political crisis? How am I coping with the fragility of life?
First, we have not hit rock bottom, but I think we don’t always need to go that far to start shifting our ways. I’ve heard some of you say this will end soon and things will go back to normal. I’m not looking forward to going back to “normal”, because that “normal” was the problem to begin with. This situation has ripped the blanket that was covering the elephant in the room. Now that is bare, it is about time we started addressing it. Our way of life isn’t sustainable. For starters, competition isn’t the key to survival as a species, but cooperation and collaboration are. Caring isn’t only the duty of women and girls, or paid staff. Great things happen when we all care for each other. The mass production that sustains consumerism in a capitalist society has depleted natural resources to a threatening point of no-return, not to mention the human cost of running this deadly business of exploitation and violence. The fact that most of us have had this time-out from our hectic “nine-to-five-too-busy-to-think” is a great indication that what we were doing could be different. Most of those jobs are actually non-essential, meaning that if they disappeared, life would go on, as it has. This is not to say that the person who carries out that work is disposable, no. But the job is. The ways in which we have organised our lives aren’t the only solution to sorting things out. And here I’m not even addressing the work overload for women with children who had a paid job outside of their homes or other (in)visible struggles (which I know happens a lot, but I couldn’t fairly contribute to that discussion as this isn’t my personal experience).
Because I was always expecting to die, I took a long time to actually see the crisis. I have just recently begun to notice the lock down. I feel it when I don’t get to see my beloved ones face-to-face, when we don’t get to express our intimacy through touch. That distresses me, so I go back to my healing practices that I started when I realised I was a survivor of abuse. It is very simple, although not necessarily easily done. The only rule is that I keep trying, it really is that simple. Like I said, I struggle, but I keep showing up, every time. It is about nurturing life. Some days it will be all about not letting it die. Other days I’d feel like kindling the flame or even to share it with others who might need it. When I go to sleep I make the intention to dream my life again and how I would like it to be. If I’m strong enough I start crafting that dream into a tangible reality. But more than anything I’ve been recently just sitting with the pain of it all, the sadness and the madness; because they came to tell me all of this I have just told you. They will soon be gone, and rid of their presence I would have the time and resources to tend to my hopes and my dreams more readily. This new “normal” that I’m craving for doesn’t involve pushing anyone under the bus to get a few more privileges. It is about finding joy in the things that matter and making life worth living for everyone. But most importantly, is finding time for the laughs and the pleasure: the fuel that keeps me alive, not just surviving, but thriving (when I can, because sometimes survival is the only joy I have). I know I’m not going to get there in a wink, but at least I’m sure that if I died right now, at least I was one step closer to getting there.