Last week when I posted on Facebook that John and I were assumed positive for COVID-19, my daughter got mad at me. It’s not the first time that something I wrote upset someone in my family. It happens. She told me that I shouldn’t have posted it. She thought it would just add to people’s panic.
I tried to explain to her that my intention was not to cause anyone to panic. My intention was to share our story, so that anyone else out there who might also be home sick wouldn’t feel alone. And because of that post I have heard from so many people who are in the same situation.
When put in a vulnerable position most people instinctively protect themselves, but when I’m in a vulnerable position, I almost always write about it. Because I figure if I’m feeling it, somebody else might be feeling it too.
Everyone acts differently when they’re put in a vulnerable position. Before I got sick I was dealing with this by cleaning my house. I scrubbed every inch of the bathroom. I took the stove apart. I was planning on cleaning out every closet and then detailing the car. These small, manageable projects helped me feel like I had some sense of purpose and temporary control.
But as anyone who studies the dharma knows, we have no control. Over anything at all.
Now, we are in a global state of vulnerability. Life as we knew it has been suspended, indefinitely. We will all deal with this vulnerability in different ways. Many of us will try to resist. Then we will get more and more frustrated with the situation. We will lash out at those around us, or on social media. We will continue to hoard things. Some of us will try to find someone or something to blame, out of anger, and fear, and desire for control.
The more intellectual among us will turn to facts, seeking out every bit of information we can get our hands on to make us feel like we know what is happening. Then we’ll share those facts on social media like an expert. The religious among us will turn to god for comfort or answers. The spiritual among us will pray for an end, perhaps obsessively.
We will post endless platitudes. Or diffuse the situation with silly memes. We will spout conspiracy theories. Some of us will immediately reach out to others, to check on them, to serve them, to help them, and perhaps to give ourselves a sense of purpose. Some of us will shut down. We will lock ourselves in, and close ourselves off, so we have to deal with as little as possible. We will fill our hours with work from home, or projects, or puzzles. We will walk for hours. Some of us will binge Netflix, go on-line shopping, indulge on snacks, over-exercise, begin drinking daily, or up our prescription dosages.
There are so many ways to try to cope with the situation. None of which leaves you less vulnerable. None. And I’m not saying that to add to anyone’s panic. I’m stating a fact. Nothing makes us less vulnerable to the situation. We can fight against it, or we can try to make peace with it.
In allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, we open ourselves up to all possibilities. In relinquishing all (false sense of) control, we can alleviate ourselves of the struggle, release any fear. We can accept the changeable nature of all things, and we can become entirely free.
A simple meditation
Sit down in a quiet place. Put your right hand on the center of your chest. Put your left hand on top of it. Press down. Feel the rising and falling of your chest. Feel your heart beating in your chest. Imagine your heart expanding. Imagine your heart being open to everything that is happening in your life. Notice if you are feeling open and expansive, or tense and closed off. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling.
May you accept whatever comes your way with an open and expansive heart.