I was deeply moved by Carol’s willingness to share deeply personal feelings about how her visit to the hospital , enough so that I decided to write about how the Covid virus has impacted my life and the lives of those around me.
Here in my corner of the world summer is a time to be outdoors, and so returning to Maine in the early spring has allowed me to be emotionally present in a joyful way for Nature’s turnings, first from winter to spring, and then from spring to summer. But I am a naturalist and only too aware that my love for the wild is not shared by everyone.
Because I have no family, the longing to be with loved ones does not pierce my heart in the same way it does for others.
However, with emphysema I am also in the highest risk category. What this means practically is that I have to remain vigilant at all times.
Overall, my life has changed very little. I spend my days in the woods, or on the water, visit with neighbors and friends outdoors. The use of appropriate social distancing is an integral part of each of these encounters.
One other positive note is that when I walk to the pond (the only time I walk on a road) I notice that folks that once might not have the time for conversation often seem anxious to stop and talk.
I have also discovered the joys of using Zoom. I am participating in two virtual gatherings composed of women writers who meet regularly to share their feelings, experiences, and writing. I love being able to sit on the porch with my dogs in comfort, keeping a sharp eye on my birdfeeder and feasting on my flowers while exchanging ideas. I don’t even have to comb my hair!
On a practical level I have critical work that needs to be done on my house that is still pending in mid July, creating a very stressful situation for me. But I think my greatest challenge has been adjusting to living on the edge of ongoing uncertainty.
The kind of uncertainty I am referencing here involves learning how to incorporate ‘not knowing what the future will bring’ into my every day life in an embodied way for the foreseeable future. What I mean by embodiment is that I not only use my thought processes when thinking about the future but I extend my thinking to include and prioritize feeling, sensing, intuition – the latter three abilities reside in my body – all ways of knowing help me navigate the unknown and help me deal with personal fears. Too often we cut ourselves off at the neck with our thinking, crippling ourselves in the process. We too are animals that need access to all our senses to make truly informed decisions about our lives and the direction we need to take.
I am doing the best I can to work with my own issues while taking refuge in the present finding joy in simple things. I find that doing both helps keep me in some sort of balance. I do not judge myself on days when I feel depressed; I expect these moods to come and go.
I no longer know what ‘normal’ is, and I am not sure that going back to what we considered normal is either healthy or life affirming. The exception, of course, is that we all need access to our loved ones, and this virus has made visiting one another difficult or impossible. Most people also need to work, and this crisis is being exacerbated by starving people who have lost their jobs.
As a culture we are living on an edge that is unfamiliar and frightening. My hope and prayer for each and everyone of us is that we may find a way to bridge the past into a new future, one that is life affirming, based on compassion and love of all human and non human species alike. May we continue to develop personal integrity, and begin to celebrate diversity on a level that we have not been willing to do before.
This virus, which threatens the life of our human bodies, can be viewed as an opportunity to embrace changes that will allow us to heal our broken connection to the body of nature so that we can begin to solve the human problems that have created this pandemic in the first place.
It is up to us as individuals to make the choice to walk through that door.
Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.
8 thoughts on “Living with Uncertainty by Sara Wright”
Thanks for this post, Sara. It speaks to my/our condition. In many ways, none of us ever knows what the future will bring, but we tended to forget that we don’t know. Now we can’t forget, individually or collectively. We need great courage and compassion to face the unknown, not just of our own future but of so much life, including rivers, oceans, soil and all the life therein. Thanks again for sharing your experience and awareness,
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I love what you say about needing courage and compassion to face the unknown – our willingness to be vulnerable is our greatest strength – and yes, we are being called to be present to uncertainty on a level that challenges because the earth is in trouble and so are we.
This is beautiful, Sara. I love your prayer “My hope and prayer for each and everyone of us is that we may find a way to bridge the past into a new future, one that is life affirming, based on compassion and love of all human and non human species alike.” – Amen and amen. <3
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Some days I cannot imagine how we humans can do this – it’s not as if we can’t – it’s that we won’t – because to do so means that we will be forced to give up a way of life that is familiar… I had a dream abut this problem – I was encountering my own resistance honestly – it made me uncomfortable but I was able to stay with it and own it. I wonder if that might be a way through? Dreams are wise…
It sounds like we are facing similar challenges, Sara. I too, have emphysema and am at the stage when even walking to my car with my oxygen on has become difficult. Once there I have to sit to regain normal breathing so that I can drive safely. I will say, however, I work diligently to find ways around all the difficultly that go with this disease. How wonderful to be able to be out in nature like that – so fabulous! Right now, here in Texas, it is just too hot to be outside but when it cools down a bit, I will drive my car somewhere in nature, and take out my jiffy portable scooter and feel the freedom of nature!
My greatest fear is that the day will come when i can’t take that walk – I am so dependent on nature for sanity… I hear you with respect to the heat – it’s been a hot summer and I find I have to schedule my life around heat – walk very early – and do any physical work during those same hours… the heat has always bothered me but now its worse. And I do not live in Texas…. may cooler temperatures come your way soon because nature is always ready for our deepest appreciation. You are very courageous.
A beautiful post that highlights an aspect of the pandemic that is too often forgotten. Our ancestors lived with constant uncertainty about survival; it is a fact of human existence that so many of us have been shielded from for most of our lives. But, as you say, it can motivate us to make significant positive changes. This is a really important insight for us all to remember even after the most immediate danger has past.
Our American obsession with “safety” has I believe blinded us to the reality of uncertainty on levels that we might not be aware of…or weren’t until this pandemic hit. Safety is also a political ruse to keep people in a state of unconscious fear. We will give up a lot to feel safe – and that’s scary too.