In these Pandemic Times, I have read about and listened to (because radio is my preferred medium) a lot of pieces about the molasses nature of time during all the variations of restriction we have had over these last 9 months. When every day is the same, we do tend to lose track of days and then, when looking back on time, they both extend and collapse all at once, both no time and forever time. In the beginning of it all, when it felt “different” it seemed for some to open a possibility of novel focus. Some people used it as an opportunity to learn new skills, refocus, work out more. When I look at the numbers in my 220 work outs in 2020 (the Fit Feminist Edition) group, most people who post regulatory, blew past 220 months ago. I am almost at that goal, and considering that last year, I only made it to 190 and also that I was depressed for most of April and didn’t do too much, I am on a hot streak of deliberate movement not seen in my 52 years thus far.
And yet, here I am, on a “vacation” from the every day, and I realize that I have not at all felt molasses time. In fact, I have been moving so fast, pushing so hard and clenched so tight, that I had lost my capacity to notice my body. I need to put on the breaks.
I wonder if anyone else can relate to this? My job has a sense of responsibility that is very weighty. In my basket of care, I have about 40 clients, 40 students of psychotherapy and some attendant administration for those students that can be crushing. Then I also have a family and a partner and pets. I have been doing my best to move through all of this gracefully, to let go of the things that are not vital, to care for myself at the same time and for the most part, I’m rocking it. Yet in these first 4 days of not working (as much) I have tripped over a reality that I was still hiding/ignoring, which is the 220 kmh feeling of swirl that sits in my guts. It’s the one that, when it starts to get out of control, lights my hair on fire (“How are you doing today?” “Hair on fire, you know, the usual.”) This is the place that I “clench” and keep going. It looks like grace sometimes, but if I’m real, it’s just enduring.
This kind of enduring, numbing, clenching is what happens when we acclimatize to our circumstance and the circumstance is an inflexible trap of obligation and survival. It makes me think about how this feeling is only a shadow of what so many more people feel all the time, in more parts of their bodies. I’m thinking about the essential workers, who are once again left alone in the face of the disease, not just because we need them but because this is how they survive. I’m thinking about living while Black, Indigenous and Brown in a world that makes you work even harder everywhere to get what you need. When I drop into this place of knowing, I feel shame, they have it worse, I should be grateful, but you know, this is also a trap. It doesn’t slow anything down at all for me to shamefully, gratefully cling to my privilege and watch the world spiral.
I’ve been back on the yoga mat these last number of days as one way I know I can slow down. I’m not looking to build up anything in these practices, neither strength, nor flexibility. I just need to slow down and unclench, or at least observe if that’s possible. I also need to be with the fact that too many people can’t do this, or if they can take 20 mins to pause, that is not enough to slow down the world so they can receive the care, relationship, reparation, restitution, belonging or love that they deserve as humans. On my mat, as I benefit from a borrowed wisdom, I’m not just going to slow myself down so my life can be more tolerable. I need to slow myself down, to rework and reconstitute what I am responsible for. Yes, all those clients and students and family. Yet in that work there has to be room to effect something else. I’m having some ideas that are close to home, in my teaching role specifically and that is what has been bubbling up into consciousness as I put on my breaks and come screeching into this latest pause.
I have said nothing about the fact that this post is on Christmas Day. Being a typical feminist pagan/Jew, my holidays of light are done for the year and Christmas usually feels like waiting to me, previously punctuated by Chinese food and a movie but not this year, not in the fun way. This year is just waiting. I’m waiting for the light, waiting for the vaccine, waiting to move into some more gracious, spacious place where there is room for everyone, EVERYONE, to slow down and rest a while, before we get back to righting the world.