Welcome to your humanness.
And by your humanness, I mean welcome to the recent realization that you are living a grief filled existence day after day after day as you mourn the loss of normalcy that was once your life. Also, in case you haven’t yet realized, humanness presents itself in countless emotional forms, not just grief. And it can drastically shift from one hour to the next.
Disgust-Filled, Jealousy Humanness– typically sparked by viewing someone else’s perfectly filtered family quarantine photos documenting bright smiles on the cheerful faces of ball cap wearing little boys, posing merrily next to their pastel-laden little sisters, with curled moonlit tendrils cascading, as the family looks on joyfully in the background, roasting marshmallows around the fire pit beneath star speckled skies. Dreamy moments, captured for all the world’s people to gaze upon. Immediately, you assume they have all the toilet paper.
Spite-Filled, Judgment Humanness– generated by something seemingly innocent, perhaps a quick glimpse out of the window, only to witness the neighbors lightheartedly conversing with one another as they meander across the driveway, leisurely dragging trashcans to the street corner. Why aren’t they wearing masks? They are nowhere NEAR 6ft apart. You wonder, if you are the only one in your community actually watching the Governor’s daily briefings. Overwhelmed with a burning desire to throw open the window and scream obscenities like “follow the F’ing rules people!” Instead you smile, wave and shuffle to the kitchen to stare longingly into the fridge.
Rage-Filled, Exasperation Humanness– Almost always politically-driven and Facebook induced, probably triggered by something like a one-sided, conspiracy theory mini-documentary video with ominous background music, highlighting the “real” origin of Covid-19, posted by a former coworker’s, cousin’s boyfriend who lives on the other side of the country, but who clearly knows about this stuff because he once interned in a lab, not to mention he has a friend who used to work at the Department of Defense. So… #genius
Any of this ringing true for you guys? Sound familiar? If so, again, I say…
Welcome to your humanness.
We are all currently enrolled in a straight up, fast-track crash course in what it really means to live through the authentic, real-deal gamut of emotions, which exclusively define us as that of the Homo sapiens species.
Let’s be honest, the rawest of raw emotions are currently being born from having our entire lifestyles ripped out from beneath us over night, only to awaken in a world where our jobs are on the line, our family’s health is at stake, and literally something as common as wiping our genitalia with actual toilet paper is now teetering on the brink of becoming a fond memory of luxuries from a privileged past.
Human emotions are heavy, big, powerful and paralyzing at times, even when we aren’t in the midst of a global pandemic. But mostly, human emotions are important. They are crucial.
So through all of the muck of this present moment, we must make an effort to remember that our emotions keep us safe and hopeful. They keep us tethered to our faith. Our human emotions are often the driving force behind our successes and our failures in life. They are the primal thread of familiarity that sutures us to our ancestors and our overall survival as a human race.
Think about it.
Love, passion, fear, angst, sorrow, peace and gratification, are all emotions that have served as the bridge by which the human race has crossed over to what some might consider a flourished state of existence for thousands upon thousands of years.
Take courage, for example.
Imagine if our ancestors didn’t embrace courage. Imagine if they were like, “hell no. I’m not foraging. I just witnessed my cave brother shit his brains out over there in the corner from those poisoned berries! I’m done here.”
An oversimplification, but surely you see the point. Had our ancestors not experienced emotionally driven courage, they may not have discovered the will to press on and establish ways to survive. We literally may not have been blessed with the opportunity to be here today. It’s an emotion they embraced and utilized to carve a path for our civilization to continue, and to ultimately thrive here on earth.
Yes. I still believe we innately possess an animal-like instinct deep within us that subsists for no other reason than to inherently preserve our existence. We witness that sense of intrinsic survival mode kick-in every time a mother endures the arduous process of labor and childbirth. We witness it every time an individual survives an impossible circumstance, like the woman who was the sole survivor of a horrific plane crash and literally walked her way out of the Peruvian Rainforest. That has to be the result of some form of divine intervention coupled with primitive, animalistic survival instincts.
But for the most part, we differ greatly from animals in the wild, driven purely by hunger, procreation and instinct. We are here succeeding on earth because of our emotional connect to the people around us, the circumstances, the visuals and the general “noise” that exists and influences our emotions, good and bad, day in and day out.
We as a species, rely heavily on our individual and collective emotions for sustained survival, for sheer endurance. And just like our ancestors, now we see that courageis once again the precise emotion that is carrying us through the unfathomable health crisis that is plaguing our entire world at the present moment.
Doctors, nurses, scientists, chemists, manufacturers, grocery workers, the list of courageous frontline warriors goes on and on and on. These humans are running on courage, an emotion that carries them through each and every hour of their workday. It’s an emotion that they must sit with, they must feel and accept and utilize and process to press on through the hardships they face.
One of the things I’ve learned through many years of meditation is that when we as humans allow ourselves the freedom to cycle through our naturally occurring emotions, to acknowledge them, to sit with them and honor their presence, and accept that these emotions (although often hard to endure) serve an actual purpose, it can be incredibly liberating. It can be incredibly healing. It can even be life saving in some cases. But we have to be willing to get uncomfortable. We have to be willing to let things rise up within us. We have to watch our temperaments shift and transition and evolve and then dissolve. Then we have to do it all again the next day. We have to do it consciously, with less knee-jerk reaction and more intentional observation, and ultimately more purposeful forward motion.
We are complex creatures with incredibly complex emotions. It’s okay to admit that truth. It’s okay to feel down or frustrated or angry or lost. It’s okay to be snippy and snappy and crotchety. We all have anxiety that rises up within us. You don’t have to fight it. You can ponder it and sit through it, acknowledge its presence and allow it to guide you. But just remember, you don’t have to live there in those painful and wearisome emotions forever either.
Grant yourself permission to feel the funk – whatever it may be. And then grant yourself permission to let go of it and move forward. And if you can’t do that, if for some reason you can’t let go, if you can’t move forward, at least move in a direction where there’s hope. Take time to figure out what hope looks like for you.
Maybe it’s as simple as a walk in the woods or a talk with God or unplugging from the virtual world. Maybe it means planting a garden or learning to meditate. Maybe it’s planning a complete makeover for your life, setting goals to physically downsize, move away, begin again. Or maybe hope means that it’s time to talk to a mental health professional who can offer real, tangible suggestions to help you move forward and to cope with your current state-of-being.
Regardless, whatever you think you need to help you establish hope, I highly recommend that you make that decision based on allowing yourself to feel whatever humanness is on the rise and respond with an open heart, an open mind and compassion.
Maybe if we are willing to do the work, to get real with ourselves, there’s a whole lot of opportunity for growth and development for each of us as the result of our present circumstance. It is possible that we can be better because of this challenge. But we have to connect with our core being.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve realized over the past month that I live a fairly self-centered existence. I don’t do much to help others in the ways that I should. Most of what I do revolves around caring for my family and for myself. That’s not a bad thing of course, but it’s quite a narrow way to live. Especially because I’ve always considered myself community-driven, giving and helpful for most of my adult life. I’m not sure anymore if that’s an accurate self-perception. I realize now, it’s probably a slightly skewed image that I’ve invented for myself. The truth is, I basically do things for me.
I cook. I write. I read. I meditate and pray and practice yoga. I garden and I have long talks with my kids and my husband daily. I listen to nature. I listen to music. I contemplate ideas. A lot. I love my people and my life very, very well. All good things, but my emotions tell me I’m disconnected to society and although I seem to like it that way, I’m not sure it’s the right way to live.
How is my self-centeredness bettering the world? It’s probably not.
So, I need to reconsider what I offer up to the world around me. I need to consider how I can grow in a more service-oriented way. I need to consider why I am, for the most part, completely comfortable living an earthy, quiet, quarantined life. Why am I not freaking out about being estranged from the rest of existence? Why is hanging around in the woods for the past 30 days without any contact with other humans so easy for me?
Don’t get me wrong. I have dear friends and treasured family members that I adore having out to the homestead for good food and good music and good, deep discussions and lots of good belly laughter. (You know who you are!) We have quality time with the people we love and if I thought for a second that those days were over, my heart would split wide open and I’d be a broken human.
But really, what do I do for others, those who exist outside of my circle? I’m just not very giving of myself or my time or my energy.
So, why am I sharing this?
- A) Because public declarations push accountability. I need to be held accountable.
- B) It’s good to be authentic about crap. The world needs more authenticity.
- C) I’m trying to move toward hope. And I hopeto come out of this a better person.
So… if nothing else, here is my unsolicited advice. Lean into your humanness during these trying times, evolve, grow, change and accept the feelings… All of the feelings.
And finally, go easy on one another. Go easy on your friend posting all of the dreamy quarantine pics every hour on the hour. Go easy on your lonely neighbors. Go easy on your former coworker’s cousin’s conspiracy theorist boyfriend. But most importantly, go easy on yourself.
After all, we’re just trying to digest this new reality and deal with our humanness.
And honestly, it’s making us weirder than normal.