Where can we find light/In this never-ending shade?
Amanda Gorman from her poem The Hill We Climb
A profound truth is a statement whose opposite is also a profound truth.
Frank Wilczek referencing physicist Niels Bohr
I was recently talking to someone about the COVID situation (isn’t that what we do these days?) and this woman expressed the view that while the virus has taken a terrible toll, she hoped that with the public health restrictions continuing, we could use the time to advantage and make changes that would contribute to a better quality of life- both for ourselves and our communities. She added: I don’t want the planet to revolt again.
I have heard similar sentiments before. What I also heard was a hint of hope and possibility, which feels at odds with how worn down and worn out everyone seems to be. And yet, it is true that practical solutions, creative endeavors, and inventiveness flourish in times of uncertainty and many examples would likely not have occurred without COVID. The re-imagined use of space; the many forms of creative expression by the arts community; and different ways of managing daily life have happened because of COVID. We also learn something about ourselves when we live at the edges of upheaval and uncertainty. I know I have.
Is this pandemic dialing us in for an individual and collective re-set that will lift us up to something better? I hope so, even though many of us are hunkering down with COVID restrictions and to some extent, winter. It’s a betwixt and between time wherein lies the paradox of a difficult ordeal and a magnificent opportunity.
Irony and contradictions abound when life is disrupted for any length of time. Isolation and connection. Generosity and selfishness. Spontaneity and routine sameness. Joy and despair. Confusion and clarity. Andre Picard calls it a time of risk and hope. All are true at the same time. It’s both marvellous and frustrating.
It’s also hard to make plans. Even if I could, I doubt there is merit in looking too far ahead. And yet I know things will settle, even as they are presently unsettled because the virus will run its course. The vaccine is coming. Warmer weather is coming. Looser restrictions are coming. Just not right now.
All of this prompts the questions: What should I be doing in this time and what do I truly need right now?
Not surprisingly, the answer is sometimes: I don’t know. It’s not a matter of getting more sleep or resisting the craving for sugar. There are times when it’s hard to know what I truly need and the best way forward. If I could be patient and still- for just a moment- perhaps an idea may softly whisper in my ear.
What we need may not be much, but I suspect we need that little bit very much. And it may lay the groundwork for managing the next moment. Maybe the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is as simple as a good cup of tea; watch the snow fall; order in; soak in the tub, bake something and eat it; go for a walk; eat chocolate; eat more chocolate.
We need to attend to those little bits in order to manage the bigger stuff every day-which still needs to happen even though we are all hunkering down.
In these unusual times, I wonder what a woman in the Third Stage of Life, (that’s me!) already charting new territory of living in many ways, is being called to do right now. Many are already moving mountains and holding things together every day. Is there space for a little bit of our wild side to emerge so we can meet our own needs and do the things we love? I sure hope so. How do we live through the contradictions of everyday life while doing all kinds of terribly important things? And yes, we do all kinds of terribly important things. They’re just seen as a matter of course.
I wish I had a simple answer, but I don’t.
I do know I want 2021 to be different. I thought one way to help make that happen was through my Word of the Year. A Word of the Year guides our way of living over the next twelve months. The word chosen may not make sense to others, but it should resonate with us.
I knew I wanted a word that could vault me from the doldrums of 2020 to a more positive place – inspiring a keen attention to what is happening while preparing for possibilities that could be realized. Something that could soften my worn out feeling. I decided on Flow to convey a sense of moving forward with ease. Living within the tensions of the time, while the seeds of creativity are being planted.
Through a dash of serendipity, the power of my word has been amplified by the words of the year chosen by two friends: Listen and Persevere. Maybe it’s a way forward for 2021.
To listen, is to enhance and nourish our connection with others and everything- something I could benefit from. With a bit of luck, I will hear that whisper in my ear. With COVID still in our midst, I need to persevere to get through this challenging time intact and hopefully stronger. If I listen and persevere, perhaps I can find my rhythm and accomplish what is mine to do- at least some of the time- in a state of flow.
Winter is extraordinary in many ways. It’s easy to assume nothing is happening when you’re experiencing cold weather and snowy days. But much transpires below the surface while the field lies fallow. It is a time of waiting and preparation. A metaphor for the contradictions of life, many of which are profoundly true. And in the meantime, the wild woman inside is patiently listening, persevering, and welcoming a sense of flow when it shows up. Knowing there are possibilities, even when it looks like there are none.
May this be the year we choose the path we walk.
Many women already are. Remember 2020 was the year for women superstars. There are many superstars out there doing all kinds of terribly important things. No one should be at all surprised. Here are a few:
(Copy the link below into your favourite browser.) https://www.dropbox.com/s/86t186nzw4p61n3/IMG_7500%20%2812%29.mov?dl=0
So, Superstar Woman: What do you need right now? What will lift you out of the shade and into the sunshine so you can do what you love and realize some magnificent opportunity?
Something to think about while we’re hunkering down….
Love on ladies!
This blog post was inspired by several writers: Roger Housden, Sue Monk Kidd, Geneen Roth, Andre Picard, Richard Rohr, and Tara Mohr and of course, the women I have the pleasure to know.