Doing what’s in front of me.
April 5, 2020 § 8 Comments
In different times, the activities I am about to describe might be called Zen. In these times these tasks are my way of dealing with being stunned, dazed, and in free fall. What do I do?
The thing that is right in front of me.
It is usually a physical thing, something done primarily with my hands. I knead bread, sew on a button, play guitar, hang the laundry, wash the dish that is in the sink.
As I do each thing I concentrate, doing the job meticulously and well, as if it is the only thing needed from me.
Maybe one thing is all I can handle given the enormity of what we are going through.
Maybe I need the sense that I still control something.
And maybe, as most of the tasks create order, I do them because I need to believe that I can impose order on the whirlwind.
With this process I fool, prop up, and encourage myself.
Each morning I create a list; not an overwhelming list, but not one that is too easy to be taken seriously, or one that is too scary. In this time of the pandemic the list could be: breathe in, breathe out, stay in the house, breathe in, breathe out… Instead I concentrate on things I can accomplish, none too easy or too hard (this sounds like the story of the Three Bears, right?).
The goals are concrete and limited so I can achieve and cross them off in a day.
Perhaps my creative right brain is placating my logical left. My right brain instinctively knows my logical left would freak out if it realized it is totally adrift and lacking control, so my right brain is cheering it on, “Look at you, getting the laundry folded so neat and orderly, you go!”
Maybe my logical left is reassuring my scattery right, “Don’t worry, I got this. You know I always do.”
Or maybe they are two wounded soldiers leaning against each other as they limp through a mine field toward safety as far away as the horizon.
Whatever is going on, each time I cross something off my list I feel a disproportionate sense of joy—way to go, me!
Then I shift my gaze to the next task on my list.