Living with Long-Haul Covid symptoms
This isn’t the blog post I wanted to write – this isn’t the life I thought I’d be living. That said I’m not intending to be a victim, and see my own body and symptoms as my teachers and healers. Understanding how to make the best of a bad situation is important to me, and going deeper into the process is my path and choice…
It all started at the end of January, 2020. I had a severe flu like illness, but nobody was talking about Covid yet. I, like many others, kept thinking “this is really the worst flu I’ve ever imagined” and the fatigue and aches and pains were intense almost leading to hospitalization but not quite. There was one night, when I had to sleep propped upright so I could breathe that I thought “if this gets any worse I’ll need to go to the hospital” but thankfully that was the worst moment for me – not for many others, though.
After a month in bed with crippling fatigue, and all kinds of strange pain, mostly focused in my legs – I knew I needed to get some exercise and start moving. I felt 85 years old (I’m a couple of decades younger than that) and could only walk bent over, and shuffling… a return to yoga, or sitting cross legged or just about any physical activity was impossible. After several practitioners didn’t understand what I was going through (they actually said “you’re fine, get going”) I found a chiropractor who understood that I had “frozen hips” or “adhesive capsulitis”. which is a condition that is comes and goes mysteriously – usually after prolonged inactivity…
This was the true beginning of ongoing and extended healing journey which has led to uncovering other major issues that continue to plague my life. I somehow tore a muscle in my thigh (OUCH!) and ruptured a disc in my low back. I’ve never had back trouble, or torn a muscle and I can honestly say i do not recommend either experience….and oh yeah, the muscle pain in my legs continues to baffle and trouble me. I get stiff when I’ve done too much, I can’t walk too much without a lot of pain the next day. I asked the practitioner how to know if I’m overdoing it and he said “because it hurts the next day”. So, caught between a desire to be active and a desire to heal completely I drift… wondering and trying to be more in touch with my body. It’s hugely challenging.
I was pretty active much of my life – bicycling, hiking, running, whitewater rafting, snorkeling and ocean swimming… then I got into extreme gardening (really!) and singlehandedly propagated thousands of plants to start a nursery. I can’t even dream of such activities these days. Walking to the mailbox is an ordeal… it’s about 50 yards up the hill and that takes all I’ve got. It’s been more than two years, almost three… or so…I have to constantly remind myself of the progress I’ve made from barely being able to sit up… not able to walk at all… to walking with a cane. I’m only 67 and this just isn’t how it was going to be.
Sometimes I find myself wanting to tell others about my challenges and when I do it usually elicits a response something like this “oh, me too I have _____ (you name it, back trouble, some other kind of trouble or maybe even cancer) and I realize that in this life there are many challenges, and health challenges can surely top the list. I took my own health for granted, and complained mightily about things that upon reflection clearly just weren’t that bad. I’m sorry to whoever I complained to.
Coming on 3 years life has been redefined for just about everyone on planet Earth. Lockdowns are common, fear of disease is rampant and it seems we’ve all become infected with PTSD, since life is traumatic. What is the cure? There is only one real direction to look and that is towards the big questions – what is the purpose of our lives? Is it happiness? Connection? Work? For me the only answer is creativity and inquiry. I’ve been mostly practicing the Wim Hof breathing method in the mornings and I found that when I am thinking of the challenges of my life and am overwhelmed by them I have a very short breath hold during that part of the session. When I wake up to that and replace the negative thinking with the picture of a sunflower then instantly my lung capacity increases and I feel better. Is it really that simple? I’ll let you know, or better yet, give it a try yourself and let me know.
Life is a dance and when my legs don’t work I dance with my arms. I’m not trying to belittle the experience just reflect what works when I start the rapid descent into self pity or am overcome by the pain and refusal of my body to cooperate like it used to. Looking around when I go out into the world I realize that I never did feel enough compassion for all the people walking around with canes, or crutches or in a wheelchair. They are most likely in some discomfort and pain, or they wouldn’t be using the crutches…and I want to send them some compassion and now I feel a sense of sisterhood with all of humanity that doesn’t have full health and can no longer do a wide range of yoga poses. This is how we learn, the hardest lessons of life come through experience.
And after regaining some mobility and finding ways to reduce the extreme pain I can only turn one way for purpose and that is to creativity in any of its forms. I bought watercolor paints, I chose some sewing projects, decided to learn to play bass guitar and I hired help to revive my overgrown gardens… One step at a time back into a life that feels good, that functions well and continuing on whether or not I can ever walk a mile again…this is how it goes.
Please let me know how you have coped with your extended illness and physical disability. I’m wondering if I can get the handicapped parking sticker! Surely I can find more benefit in this day’s possibilities even from my living room chair…
Love – the mirror
The shadow part of our unconscious has a talent and desire to cause trouble for us. So it becomes of paramount important to find a way to prevent the meddlesome troublemaking of our shadow sides.
I have lived most of my life believing that love is always positive, that love only speaks the kindest truth… that love sees with the heart. And I still believe this but as a new way of discerning kindness has been shown to me. It has become very clear to me that a very effective way to see ourselves is to use love, friendship or intimacy as a mirror and allow the love to open us more fully to ourselves and also to see the places we may not see clearly ourselves. Only in a trusted connection of friendship and real love can this function in the highest way.
There is a necessity to be able to face all of ourselves, the light and the dark to continue growing and expanding in higher consciousness. Our shadow side is sneaky, when we look there, our shadow diappears! It can only be seen by looking behind and those who have the best view are often outside ourselves. Our friends and family can help us to become the people we want to be with loving feedback and observation.
This is tricky turf, though. In many relationships and families most of us have witnessed this process being subverted through criticism and verbal abuse. The eyes of love do not see in a judgmental way. Love is patient, love is kind… love especially is kind.
Cultivating relationships and intimacies with others can help us see where we are on the path – “as within, so without”. What kinds of friends do you have? How are they reflecting your shadow side back to you? Awareness is the first big step towards change and healing.
There is another sneaky way the human mind can cloud the mirror, and it is fairly common and very hard to detect from the inside. It is called “projection” where we imagine others to be making us our victims when we are also enacting the behavior we judge in others. By listening to our own judgements of others we can learn to perceive ourselves more clearly, clean our mirrors and heal the ways we judge ourselves and project that outward into the world.
Our shadows want to be seen, to be acknowledged and respected. When that doesn’t happen there are some interesting ways the shadow demands attention. For one there can be a tendency for those with troubled feelings to find someone to whom they can “confess” their darker thoughts and tendencies. It is a cry for help, and a cry for loving attention. The shadow part of our unconscious has a talent and desire to cause trouble for us. So it becomes of paramount important to find a way to prevent the meddlesome troublemaking of our shadow sides. This really is BIG work. Therapists are one powerful avenue towards self -love, and it is important to feel support and respect in that relationship. Close friends can also help us, as can intimate partners. The enmeshment of intimacy does seem to cloud things though and it may not be best to depend on your partner for this support. Sometimes it works to engage in “co-counseling” with a friend where you share time, each giving and receiving emotional support and loving feedback.
I love to contemplate the story of the Chinese Goddess of Compassion – Kwan Yin. She is so filled with love and compassion that she actually rides a dragon to her destination. I understand this to be the illustration of the truth that only love, more love and more compassion can fully integrate the powerful, fiery, potentially destructive parts of our psyche into balance to serve the highest good.
How have you tamed your dragons today? Let’s talk!
We’re All In This Together
As our world has turned in an unfathomable direction I am certain that one of the most important things to remember is this – We’re All in This Together….
Living a life of heart, from the heart, with an open heart means learning to listen deeply to the highest wisdom that resides within. There is no reason to take my word for it, this is a voyage of discovery, a worthy pilgrimage, which may support movement towards living a life of more joy, more love and more fulfillment. It takes a courageous leap of faith in life is to choose this quest. If this is the right choice, the heart will be clear, as the mind’s apparent full time task is to muddy things quite a bit.
The heart’s whispers are also called “that small still voice within”. For me it’s not really a voice, my hearts language is feelings, which are sometimes subtle and other times boisterous. The quest is for discernment – it could be seen as an interesting challenge and like all adventures it is best embraced as a wondrous destination, a bucket list item, and exciting as can be. If you can’t find those feelings in yourself, progress will be slow. Sometimes, as we all know, slow and deliberate pacing reaches the finish line more quickly than the enthusiastic participant with a short attention span.
If you have said “yes” to this quest or are on the cusp of this journey, I have some pointers to offer, distilled from the teachings of the mystic masters, and from my own experiences in life. I hope they lend you a helping hand for that is my truest intention.
Let’s begin: at the top of the list is appreciation. It is magical, powerful and is virtual rocket fuel for grace. The yoga of the mind is mainly defined as a kind of mental stretching towards the positive and appreciative viewpoint. It’s instantly beneficial and though a sour mood or negative viewpoint will trickily try and hold its place in the mind, it’s ok to let it go, just drop it and return to love and joy. Sometimes I snap my fingers, for the reminder and effect. There is a lot of talk about gratitude these days, which is wonderful and once again, don’t take my word for it, give it a try and see what happens. Mary Poppins said it best “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”.
Next step: Imagine feeling good about yourself, really feeling good. Find the feeling in your body, where is it? It may take some time to learn how to do this, but it is time well spent. Every emotion has its place in the body and finding that connection is opening the way to a richer, more fulfilling life.
Other tools that absolutely help us move more deeply into a loving place which is well known to our hearts include meditation, music, nature, wise conversation and spending time with plants and animals. Enjoyable hobbies, and passions contribute to our well being and also work well to elevate our mood.
There is always the enormous challenge of recognizing our reactivities and triggers. What do we do when overtaken by a mental storm of emotion? It can completely drown out our heart’s wisdom in an instant, and seems to grab our being by its horns and brutally shake us. Who among us doesn’t know the feeling of shame that can stir us to irrational acts? What then? The first big step is learning ourselves. Learning to recognize when we have been overtaken, so that we can use our mind yoga to guide our being back into the soft loving place of heart. Letting the uncomfortable feelings burn can work to uncover the hidden triggers in our psyche, and so meditation is important and keeps us from causing harm to our loved ones. Sitting still with uncomfortable feelings is the work of a Buddha. It is challenging, difficult and most of us will find any way we can to wiggle out of those feelings. Shouting at another, blaming another for our feelings, descending into howling victimhood – all these “coping mechanisms” take us away from the hard work of mental asana (yoga pose, fyi) which is infinitely more challenging than stretching our bodies.
Simply sitting in nature or a comfortable spot indoors in silence or with calming music playing just letting emotions penetrate and expand is a practice that will reap huge benefits. Don’t just take my word for it, please give it a try and then we can talk! Before talk therapy, there are feelings to be felt.
Disappointment and stress
They stroll through life, hand in hand – disappointment and stress, stress and disappointment. Unmet expectations lead to misery, unfulfilled ambitions cause pain. This isn’t a given, it is a habitual pattern of humanity – one that can cause us to sit up and beg for change. It certainly causes a lot of uncomfortable feelings and outcomes. I can accept that uncomfortable feelings are the harbingers of growth, loud messengers from our inner selves that there is some part that needs attention. Our inner lives are a deep well!
Disappointment is the uncomfortable result of unmet expectations and unfulfilled attachments. It can be extremely painful and clearly has the power to cause enormous suffering, especially when the disappointment is connected to an important relationship or outcome. Disappointment can cause resentment, and its regular companion – anger. It’s easy to say that least some of the time things don’t turn out the way we want them to, and understanding a more compassionate way to meet this occurrence is one of the compelling reasons to engage in a life of inner growth and inquiry.
Acceptance is the flip side of disappointment. Continued acceptance is dependent on a sturdy foundation of open hearted, non-judgmental self love. It is a destination that isn’t found in travel magazines, or anywhere but within. As usual, recognition is the first big step towards releasing the uncomfortable mind traps that are the creators of a suffering. The greater the expectation the greater the disappointment when it is not met. Is it possible to live a life without expectations, hopes and dreams? I have experienced travel as a good training ground for shifting harmful expectation since the only way to be comfortable while traveling is to release expectation and confront the present moment. And facing this challenge necessarily brings a heaping glory of insight and clarity.
But life isn’t always happening in special situations and it is the everyday, the ordinary where many of the usual mind traps find fertile ground and take root. It’s time to learn how to celebrate all the everyday wonders with joy, with a fresh perspective and with a relaxed mind and open heart. Ahhhh it sounds so easy! And yet, at this time in history as we are in “lockdown”, where free movement around the world isn’t possible, what is another way to gain insight from our feelings? It’s possible that there is more disappointment and stress now than before the lockdown. We have been forcibly pressed to re-consider many things that were once taken for granted in life and re-orient as quickly as possible.
These times have generated a profound sense of stress for many. Stress is a direct result of the fear of disappointment. Stress is a foreshadowing of the emotional pain of disappointment, in fact it is a share of the disappointment already being felt. What is the antidote for this? Once again it points directly to relaxation, acceptance and bringing the complete self into the present moment. None of us can foretell the future – one of the reasons so many keep trying is that future-telling or “forecasting” cannot be verified, and there is a kind of relief in hearing what may be happening before it happens… but truly there is no way to accurately foretell the future. Just watch what happens when reassurance promises a good outcome. The mind relaxes, the emotional body relaxes and just assuming a good outcome changes the present moment into something less stressful. There you have it! Once again, recognizing the mind as the generator of emotion turns us within to put more energy and effort into teaching our mind what we want it to know. Deep breathing is so effective because it redirects our attention back to our body, to its momentary movements.
Here’s another quick and effective practice some years ago: to come more fully into the present moment, try to be aware of all 5 senses at the same time… just try…
Let me know how it goes!
The Covid Curve Ball
“I have a dream, that one day this world will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self evident that all beings are created equal”. –Martin Luther King, Jr (w/update)
Our world today has changed – shockingly, suddenly, and in a snap we are confined, limited, controlled and quarantined. The new “normal” is the most abnormal set of life circumstances I have experienced. To be fair I am one of the lucky ones – living in the country with a small band of rugged outdoorsy gardeners I am not completely alone and can wander my own garden freely. My heart goes out to those in small apartments or nursing homes with no visitors.
We have been preparing for this time all our lives. From my first “duck and cover” nuclear bomb exercise in elementary school (think 1960’s) until now the threat of disaster has loomed daily in many forms. Cancer, hurricane, earthquake, wildfire, flood and other varieties of dire illness whisper from the wings – “we’re here, don’t forget”. The quivers of fear that exist within us can be activated in so many different ways- and this one has been lurking as well.
I lived for a brief time in a small seaside village on a peninsula. Some weather conditions, earthquake most likely, cut the village off from the outside for a while. Mind you this little town was mainly populated with retired university professors, and was quite affluent and exclusive in its Bohemian vibes. Something wonderful happened in that village, I imagine they still talk of it today. The good people came together and collaborated to be sure that everyone was fed and sheltered and healthy. It was so extraordinary that it made the front page of the newspaper.
So our time has come. Globally we are marooned from each other – forced to face ourselves in a new way. This time is helping us to identify our longings and unacknowledged needs – learning what our souls truly seek. If you haven’t yet asked yourself that question, I highly recommend it. When we re-emerge from lockdown we have an opportunity to profoundly reset our lives. We are preparing to begin again, and in my vision this includes the opportunity to be more authentic, more free, more joyous. Mother Earth and all her beings are desperately crying out for our love – and it is this simple – we can give it. It is time for planetary rebirth and the conscious co-creation of a new way of life sincerely born of love.
Taming an unruly mind is not unlike training an unruly dog. Patience, persistence, determination, intention and love are all included. It’s most effective to leave behind the all-too-human propensity towards self-criticism, which doesn’t contribute anything valuable to the process of gaining mastery over our minds. The instructions have been available for eons – the ancients (think Buddha and Padmasambhava) codified a system for inner peace that has proven to be challenging to us modern humans.
In this universe of polarities, right and wrong, good and bad, up and down mour surface situations continue to change dramatically sometimes from one day to the next. Technological “advances” seem to have had the opposite effect on the human spirit. Addicted to “devices” many people do not seem to be aware of the world around them, bringing it all down to a tiny screen on a tiny electronic box, called a “Smart Phone”. Those nuggets of magnetism are miraculous, no doubt, and become more so every day. How is this possible? The human mind is also miraculous, unrelentingly imagining then creating improvements, modifications and changes to the way things function.
The down side of all this activity is the need for a busy mind. It has come to be called ADD, attention deficit disorder, which is replicating mightily these days – and is perhaps the siren song of our civilization. It seems that most of us have forgotten how to sit quietly and contemplate. Here is the challenge! There is a lot of evidence that a wealth of material possessions does not bring happiness or deep peace. In fact, clearing clutter has become a best selling idea, only made possible by the overabundance of non-essential items that tend to collect when we have expendable income. Clearing our homes of excess things doesn’t necessary clear our minds, but interestingly the processes can be parallel in their unfolding. What this means to me is – clearing mental clutter is a process of examining thoughts and choosing whether to turn the volume up or down on them. Recycle, compost or just donate to the landfill, but get rid of unhelpful thoughts!
It’s a good start to simply ask yourself these basic questions: is this thought helpful and supportive, is it relevant and useful, and does it make me feel good? The best test of a thought is how our body responds when we think it. We all know what it feels like to have the white hot heat of anger, or some other uncomfortable feeling grab us and wrestle us to the symbolic mat. In our discomfort it is easy to lash out – causing harm to those we love. It is a sign of maturity and the wondrous benefit of effective inner work to be able to choose wisely under emotional duress. It’s a work in progress for sure, it’s certainly more desirable to my mind than remaining are willing mired in old ways of conflict and abuse.
Taking a stand in our lives to shift our relations and learn to truly love is, in my belief, the one true path in life. Other things matter little in comparison, and the I’m sure that at the end of our lives what really matters is how much love we shared. There was a bumper sticker going around “he who dies with the most toys wins”. Nothing, to my mind could be farther from the truth. Choose love, dear ones.
Grief and Guilt
“Every feeling fully felt leads to Love” — Grace of Mt. Shasta
I lost my Mother last week, which as everyone knows is a huge transition, and even though I know it was her time, I still feel grief arising, in waves that sometimes build and sometimes ebb quietly away. Occasionally the grief has a quality of extreme pain, other times it is soft and warm. I can still hear my Mom’s voice, speaking my name and wonder how long that will last. I saved her final voice message to me on my computer, but alas that computer died and with it – the message… letting go is the message, while remembering to give thanks for her long life, and for the time we had to mend our fences and open our hearts to each other.
What is the pain of grief? My experience is that when grief is allowed, invited, even welcomed that it is a portal to exaltation, to the rainbow realm, the living grace of this world. I have experienced this and so speak from there. But why then is grief sometimes so crippling and painful? The difference, I believe, is guilt. When guilt sneakily attaches itself to grief, huge pain erupts. Thoughts such as “If only I had….” or “why didn’t I…” begin to surface and with them comes enormous pain.
I once read a really interesting book – Power vs. Force and the statement made in that book is that our feelings have vibrations. Guilt and shame, say the author, are the lowest vibration. Lower vibrations (below love) are uncomfortable and make us sick, they bring “dis-ease”. That means that feelings of guilt are necessarily unhealthy for us and our close ones. How do we let them go? Ahhhhh, this is the big work!
I love the word “awareness” and perhaps I overuse it these days – but it does seem that awareness is the first step towards change. After all it is impossible to make a conscious change from an unconscious place. That seems obvious but is truly worth consideration, since taking the first big step of awareness often brings pain. In order to face our uncomfortable habits, thought patterns and neuroses takes courage. Heaps of courage. I for one have a hard time pricking my finger for a little blood sample, why should I want to poke at the demons of my unconscious wounding? Well, awakening the sleeping demons means we will need to tussle with them but let’s for one moment feel confident that we have tools to overcome the challenges of our inner lives. I know we do! You got this! Let’s do it!
Ok so the guilt has been brought to the surface. What is the way to shift and change unconscious patterns? It is remarkably similar to the way we change our bodies – it takes repetition. But unlike building physical strength with emotional re-programming it takes repetition with emotion. Finding the old thoughts and judgements that have created the guilt with us is a huge step, and the painful emotions that are stirred by those thoughts can shift in an instant with new more supportive thoughts. Feeling deeply into the new thoughts creates a new way to respond and the old patterns can drop away, recycle, compost and reappear as grace.
I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again – this is no easy task. I have noticed that when I need to face something uncomfortable in myself that all the little things undone around the house immediately becoming compelling – the vacuum cleaner beckons, the deep cleaning of the closet must happen – on and on the procrastination continues. It takes huge devotion to make space to sit and contemplate. Right now, in the middle of the Shelter at Home I hope that you have found the time and space for your inner life. The world right now is a huge metaphor for what is needed in our inner lives…just be with yourself. Begin Within… Again…
Learn to Discern, Choose Love
“Love calls – everywhere and always.
We’re sky bound.
Are you coming?”
Learning to choose Love, is to me the most important aspect of life. It’s an ongoing process – a spiral dance, a vision quest a grand education. And in the choosing lies the question – what exactly is this thing called love? The English language is to me, woefully inadequate to describe Love. Other languages have many words because there are many meanings and faces of love in its expression. For now I’m speaking of the universal love that is the compelling energy of this world. Romance can be delightful, but couple-love is by nature limited (only two allowed) and love with a capital “L” is unlimited, limitless and universal.
It’s not actually a choice, to love. It is innate in us and to love we must retrain our minds to follow that track, using our heart’s truest wisdom to guide the way. We all have a built in tool for finding our way – it’s called our intuition. Some call it “gut feeling”. Our minds and deep conditioning can get in the way of this deep inner knowing and there are some big obstacles to deeper listening, but this capability exists in everyone, I’m sure of that.
During these days of the corona virus as the world has quieted, our activities are limited and we are essentially confined it is more important than ever to focus on deep inner listening. What is the feeling when we know ourselves to be acting in opposition to our own innate wisdom? Where is it felt in the body? Noticing some physical discomfort is often a great starting point for finding the way.
Choosing love doesn’t mean allowing others to mistreat or take advantage of us. In the face of anger or abuse there is an important need for self care. Most times the best solution is to remove ourselves from harm’s way, verbal or physical. The most successful strategy I have found is to use a kind of energetic aikido and relax into the truth that nothing other people say or do is really about us. It is a reflection of their own inner state, their judgements which they believe to be true, and their conditioning and trauma. Choosing love in intense situations can mean quietly exiting the arena of conflict, at best leaving a feeling of compassion behind.
Since we’re talking about compassion, it’s another term that calls for clarification. Pema Chodron, a Buddhist wise woman calls certain behaviors “idiot compassion”. She explains it this way: “It refers to something we all do a lot of and call it compassion. In some ways, it’s what’s called enabling. It’s the general tendency to give people what they want because you can’t bear to see them suffering.” This one is seen a lot with small children, whose parents give in to their tears and tantrums. This doesn’t work out so well in the long run, as many adults attempt this same kind of emotional manipulation in adulthood- and it doesn’t usually work out very well on either side.
True compassion is felt in the heart. It is warm and fuzzy and can also hold tinges of sadness for another’s suffering. We can’t truly assuage the suffering of others, but by holding them in compassion and love we can lend emotional support which is in many ways one of the most valuable offerings we can make to each other. These days we may be limited to reaching out by phone, and as hugging has become dangerous most of our connections are virtual, and yet that is opening a door to creativity. How do I express my love in new ways…please let me know what you have discovered!
Circling back to the best way to be a helper in this time of confinement due to Covid-19, having compassion for ourselves and others, putting the others who are sharing our homes is at the top of the list. Learning to deepen the ways we express our love to each other is essential and important. Taking responsibility for our own hurtful behaviors can work wonders on our relationships and is truly the higher path. Every time we notice ourselves veer off the path of love and compassion, healing happens and we can stand up, brush off and re-enter the realms of love and joy. Welcome home!
Exiting the Chrysalis
I have spent countless hours observing caterpillars, chrysalis and butterflies. I have witnessed the challenge, the risk and the glory of metamorphosis. Each transition is difficult – when the caterpillar hatches it is fine food for birds, lizards and other critters. As they grow into adulthood, the caterpillar needs to find a safe place to cocoon. This is not an easy search for such a small being, and there are many hazards on the way. Once again, they can be eaten by birds, or other creatures, crushed by man or animal or run out of time in their quest.
When the caterpillar finds a suitable place (or unsuitable, time will tell, a Monarch caterpillar once made its chrysalis on a hinge and almost made it until an unwitting guest closed the door… sadly…) I digress – It attaches to the wall. It needs to hold on in order to let go. That always tickles me to say, paradoxes are my thing! Then comes the intense part as the caterpillar’s body seems to dissolve. Sometimes they just don’t make it through this process, it can’t be easy. If they do make it then they become another kind of being. A being stopped in time. Some of them have little faces, others look like dangly jade earrings but all of them are specialized and precise. For in some period of time, from a couple of weeks to a couple of years, the butterfly will emerge.
The monarch butterfly emerging is a miracle of nature I’m overawed to have witnessed many times. As the jade green chrysalis approaches hatching time, the skin begins to become transparent and the butterfly inside is seen as a kind of origami puzzle. When it breaks out of the cocoon it is a fragile being. It takes time to dry off its wings and is very vulnerable for even a gust of wind can knock it to the ground and its wings will deform. They can’t take off yet so are at the mercy of any nearby bird. And yet, many of them flutter happily (I project) into the sunlight. Butterflies can’t fly in cold weather so they are always beacons of springtime.
Once they are aloft they have two activities to fulfill. They sip nectar and aid in pollination as a side effect. They make love and procreate. I once watched a monarch butterfly couple do their coupling for almost an hour. When it was complete, he (I imagine, perhaps wrongly) lifted her up and flew her up to a branch where they rested for a while. It’s a short life, but valuable for sure.
Why am I rambling about this right now? We’re quarantined to be safe from the corona virus, we’re watching our world come to a standstill. We are cocooned. It is a challenge perhaps the biggest challenge of our short lives. Life, as we imagined it was, has ceased to be. We have let go, collectively and individually. We have let go of activity for the most part. We’re not allowed to gather or recreate together. It’s very strange. It seems unnatural. For those of us who have meditated and vision quested it is not difficult but most people have spent their lives avoiding being alone and quiet and listening to their inner voice.
What’s next? I imagine us, like the butterfly, emerging slowly from this cocoon. Taking it one tiny step at a time, into the sunlight. Everything has shifted and I hope that we can collectively make more loving choices as we recreate our systems to better serve humanity and our ecosystem. There are some important things each of us can do to contribute and “be the change”. We can get comfortable with ourselves, honest and true and be clear on what we stand for. I stand for love, for caring, for holding each other up with nobody left behind. I think a basic universal income and guaranteed housing would be a fantastic place to start. All the money spent on the war machine can be turned to providing that and health care, education and funding for the arts. Animal agriculture should be ended and hemp and cannabis farms allowed to prosper and provide.
The sky is the limit! What kind of world do you want to live in? Keep marinating in your cocoon and we can discover that together….I love you!