“… but I can’t complain.”
Sure you can.
As a matter of fact, go right ahead.
I mean, don’t throw a hissy fit or anything, but have at it…
I wish I could hug my granddaughter…
My kids, stuck at home, are making me crazy…
I don’t want to cancel my vacation…
I miss March Madness…
Tom Brady is no longer a New England Patriot…
It’s okay to miss hugs and kisses and laughter shared with someone so physically close to you that you can smell the peppermint Altoid on her breath (and not panic (rushing to mop your face with a Clorox wipe)).
You are also allowed to miss sports…
Worry about your job…
And yearn to head out into the world ‘just because’, stopping wherever you want, crowded or not.
So many of us were raised with the philosophy, ‘Eat everything on your plate, and don’t complain because there are starving kids in Africa’.
I mean, I’m not trying to insult our parents, but this is not necessarily a healthy – or even a logical – directive.
Leaving aside any arguments over the nutritional value of a lima bean, you can make any face you want as you choke one down and it will not negatively impact – not even a little bit – your compassion for a hungry child somewhere in the world.
Here’s the thing.
On our plates right now are servings of isolation, loneliness, fear, unemployment… illness, worry, and loss.
They appeared there suddenly, unexpectedly… as if ordered by someone at another table, and delivered to us by mistake.
We are beginning to grieve ‘normal’.
‘Normal’ when it comes to our personal everydays.
‘Normal’ when it comes to the world around us.
And of course we are. What was, mere weeks ago, is now not. And we are forced to wait for the fog to lift, to see what the world will be weeks from now.
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance…
All points along a line that can be looped and knotted and stretched. Feel one, feel none, feel three… feel them in order, or all mixed up. The universality of grief is equaled only by how profoundly personally we experience it. How we live and manage through all of this will be different for each of us.
But one thing is for sure.
We’ve got this.
We can grieve our individual and collective ‘normals’, and be grateful for what our current circumstances are, as compared to what they might be.
Because empathy, as a natural human resource, is not finite.
And also, perspective.
What is being asked of us is far more nuanced and complicated than simply sitting on our sofas and watching Netflix as we wait for everything to blow over.
I can’t tell you how to do it, and you can’t tell me how to do it.
But we can each sit with it, on our own.
And we can sit with each other, and listen.
We have to feel safe in our wonderings – and, may I make a case for my own brain’s wanderings – over what’s happening. It must be okay to feel what we feel.
I promise not to assume you are not full of gratitude if you complain that you are going stir crazy, if you promise not to judge me as unthoughtful if I tell you I am loving my days of quiet solitude.
I will not think it shallow of you to wish your favorite thrift store were open so you can spontaneously stop in, chat with the owner and other shoppers, and hunt for treasures, if you don’t think less of me for secretly hoping that Major League Baseball’s Opening Day happens in May (this for a sport I’m not even a big fan of), because of what it will represent to me (and millions of others).
None of these little wishes exist separate and apart from the appreciation that we are in the midst of a battle for the health and lives of far too many.
I’ve said it before, we are not – none of us – just one thing.
Letting it out, talking about it, admitting it… these are all healthy things.
Because we can miss something, and still appreciate everything.
Humans are wHeird like that.
Hopefully, there will be a lot of fear-butchering laughter in and amongst it all. There has to be (I have faith).
The other day I was a part of a conversation that went exactly like this.
“I got toilet paper!”
“Uh. I dunno. The white kind.”
“No. I mean…”
Dramatic pause, and you could hear the smile in what came next…
“Is it… quilted?”
Stay safe, vent as needed, and keep that sense of humor at the ready.
Thanks for readin’.
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