How to survive in scary times? After the last phase of suffocating smoke, intense self-care and safety was needed. The constant crucibles of our lives seem to continue nonstop. At least you can save money on your next trip to Burning Man – we’ve got that right here, so you don’t have to wander into the desert for fire and dust.
There’s plenty going on in this old world, teetering on its axis. The ashes on our heads are haunting particles from melted plastics and animals passed, dying on the land. I found myself humming, “Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down,” not realizing that this tune was actually about the burning of the dead bodies from the victims of the plague. That’s how tricky the subconscious is; our psyches are absorbing a lot right now. So, how to remain vital in chaotic times?
Riding the waves of catastrophe requires self-regulation. This week Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death also took the breath out of us. It’s frightening, anticipating elections and watching the news. Sometimes we have to surrender to our sorrow in order to revive. But ruminating on grief is not wise either. So many layers of loss are being digested, from trying to learn new computer programs to figuring out a different way to make income or to live with family and kids. You could be ill or half packed for evacuations while trying to paint the house that you’re not sure will still be standing next year.
I’ve been nervously eating at night, but getting bored with pesky pistachios wearing out my thumb, so I turned to new books. I ordered topics about why we have allowed a bully to run our country, trauma recovery, sex after sixty and wit from women through the ages. I finally settle on Calm the Fuck Down, by Sarah Knight. The message being, “when shit happens, circumstances are what they are: tires are flat, wrists are broken, files are deleted…etc. You may be frustrated, anxious, hurt, angry, or sad – but you are right there in the thick of it and the only thing you can control in the equation is YOU, and your reaction. To survive and thrive in these moments, you need to acknowledge what’s happened, accept the parts you can control and address the parts you can’t.” She admits, “Calm the F– down is essentially a blasphemous long form version of that…” It seemed to sum up self-care for me.
We have to bolster ourselves in trying times, but we also grieve. We can’t constantly stare at losses, but we also have to stay aware of them. So, nourish yourself and others, plant a bush (not a burning bush) or call an ailing relative. “During a quarantine, for example, a resilient person might decide it is a good time to start a meditation practice, take an online course or learn to play the guitar,” rightly advises The New York Times.
Or get involved in something meaningful. Join an endeavor you believe in like getting people to vote. We are all needed by a world in trouble.
Under this kind of siege, radical self-care is essential. No matter how divided we may sometimes feel, we share a unified goal, we all want peace in the valley.