The events of last week were unsettling, to say the least, and a reminder of the tumultuous and uncertain times in which we live. As if the stress of a worldwide pandemic weren’t enough, we’ve suffered the politicization of practically everything and the proliferation of incomplete or misleading (whether purposeful or not) information.
It’s hard not to be really, really stressed.
I think we all reach our personal stress saturation points, after which the only way towards personal psychic survival seems to be to circle the wagons and batten down the hatches and whatever other self-protective metaphor you can think of. And that’s totally understandable – when faced with an increasingly unfriendly world, it becomes a sort of default setting to direct all of one’s energy towards oneself.
The challenge, of course, is to not lose sight of that world out there. At these point of stress, it’s all too easy to fall into anger or fear (which itself is simply a form of anger) and to become solely focused on what I think of as “me/mine”. When we’re in those states, it’s harder to think about “us/ours”, much less “you/yours”, especially when the “yours” is at odds of your sense of “mine”.
Ironically, though, it is when we venture out of our self-protective cocoons that we can begin to release that unbearable tightness that makes us collapse within ourselves. Reaching out, extending a hand, looking for that sense of “us” in all of this mess – this is what can give us comfort. Being a part of “us”, being of service to “us” – family, friends, neighbors, communities – this is where strength lies.
Sometimes the world is inconceivable, unknowable. But it’s ours.