I started this blog at the beginning of lockdown in San Francisco, and my original commitment to posting daily was to have ended in 21 days. Of course, that was extended, and multiple times at that – so here we are at June 1.
My intent was to wrap up my daily posts yesterday, but the events of the weekend – both across the country and in my own personal world – took my attention. So now I find myself this evening, June 1, 2020, going over 77 days of posts and trying to decide if there’s any way to sum up my experience in this ongoing pandemic, and the once unimaginable ways in which our world has changed.
In many ways we seem to be in a worse position than when all of this began; as I type, I’m witnessing my country teeter on the brink of dictatorship and our divisive president spew some of the most outrageous and incendiary rhetoric I’ve ever heard in this country.
As you can surmise from my last week or so of posts, it has been a rough 10 days for me personally, the chaos of this country aside. I’ve been struggling with my own stability, which has been exacerbated by insomnia (which becomes a vicious circle). The addition of acute stress (Pinkerton’s accident, rioting, the death of my friend) to chronic stress (lockdown/pandemic) would put a strain on any system, and I have to be particularly mindful of the vulnerability of mine.
What can I say at this point?
Well, three things have become clearly apparent.
First, that the stress of the lockdown and now this civil unrest is enough to cause anxiety or depression for those without chronic/preexisting conditions. For those of us who live with GAD or panic disorder or major depressive disorder or bipolar, the effect is magnified exponentially.
It is critical, absolutely critical, that we practice the appropriate self care measures and be vigilant about any medical protocols. To not prioritize these things is not just detrimental to ourselves, but can have devastating impact on our loved ones. Our first priority is to look after our own well-being so that we are able to participate in the lives of others and do what we can to make a positive impact in our communities.
Second, that art, and music, is absolutely crucial in times like these. Art is not an indulgence, a flourish, an unnecessary extravagance. Music is what comforts us. Music is what connects us. Music is the personification of the good that is possible in the world. Music is the representation of the best parts of humanity. And we need to be reminded of those best parts to bolster our hope for a better time and to remind us of the good within all of us.
Finally, that the last 3 months have forced me to reframe a though that, try as I might, has dogged me throughout the years. I’ve experienced enough trauma (abuse, suicide, serious health issues) and made it to the other side to know that I have the resilience to survive a lot of things. But that doesn’t diminish the first thought that leaps up whenever I’m struck with another blow: Why me?
I’m sure we’ve all felt that before. And it’s only human to feel that we’ve been singled out to experience a hardship. It doesn’t feel fair.
Here’s the most important thing I’ve learned over the course of writing these 77 days: Why NOT me?
Things happen to us, things over which we have no control. And most often they happen without judgment. They don’t happen to make our lives difficult. They don’t happen to make us unhappy, waving a fist at the sky. They just fucking happen.
“Why me?” implies purpose, and there usually is none. Adversity doesn’t come with purpose. And when we can approach without judgment, we realize the real question is “Why not me?” Which ends up to be the most liberating question you can ask yourself, because it frees you from believing that bad things happen to you because you’re a bad person, or that bad things happen to you because the world is wicked and cruel.
Shit happens because shit happens. So why not me?
Thank you for coming along this particular part of the ride, my friends. I want to be clear that I’m not done with this blog. Rather, I’m moving away from the daily post format. While I enjoy the discipline of daily writing, by necessity it requires me to write in shorter form, because I only have so many hours a day to devote to it. I hope to keep discussing the effects of the pandemic on our lives, and our mental health, posting Monday and Thursday.
I also hope to return to writing on my other blog, Work Still in Progress. I’m going to be starting a different project there, with multiple parts, that I’ve wanted to pursue for several years now; I’ll let you know when I get that going.