Who would know that it is Saturday? One day rolls into another. Hey, it’s a bit like retirement! What does corona-sheltering mean for retirees? More of the same. Intensive retirement. Moving from you don’t have to do much to you can’t do anything. You thought you’d already slowed down a lot? Well, you can slow down even more. Those frequent trips to the grocery store and library, just for a change of scenery and stimulation? They’re not happening anymore. Dinner parties? Uh-uh. No church. No meetings. No spontaneous trips to see the grandkids, let alone flights to far places.
The effect of this diminished possibility, for me, is a kind of soothing inertia.
They say when you get older your world gets smaller. I had not observed that tendency in myself before this strange time. I found myself doing much less, day to day, in retirement but I used my freer time to reach out to the larger world and increase my social involvement. I started this blog, developed a whole new set of relationships and projects in a foreign country, renewed my fluency in a foreign language, devoted energy and creativity to my church, helped grandbabies get a start in the world, moved into a new neighborhood and new relationships, and, in the last several months, began a new venture in relating to the beleaguered immigrant community. That just skims the surface of what I have done since I stopped working for pay.
Now that I look at the list, I am a bit impressed. But much of what I have going now has to be rethought, at least for the short term and maybe for the long run. And instead of rethinking, reshuffling, moving into different modes and approaches, I’m drawing a blank, moving into blank space. My imagination has all but shut down.
I am delighted and impressed with how younger people are coping. The parents who are creatively homeschooling their kids. The way our daughter and son-in-law’s practice (tai chi/counseling/healing) has moved largely online, overnight. Our daughter-in-law’s daily posts on life in the confined-mommy lane. The neighborhood help network that is emerging.
It is true that, with the help of others we have been able to shift into Remote Living. In this first week of radical sheltering we have participated in four gatherings on Zoom or the equivalent and phoned, texted, and emailed more than ever. I’ve been FaceTiming and Facebooking and even adopted a new medium, WhatsApp, because most of my African friends use that. I am not averse to technology though I resist learning each new thing.
And I just put in my second Shipt order for grocery delivery.
It is evident, however, that I could easily get used to sitting at home. Just a few days ago I was frustrated by not being able to exercise my helping instincts. Now I’m seeing how those instincts could fade away without such exercise. If and when this happens, will I go deeper into being or will I just experience a shrinkage of spirit?
Heck, I haven’t even started the spring cleaning that was at the top of my to-do list. It seems I am capable of being very very very very lazy.
I take comfort in this message from the Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, a group that formed, I believe, after 9-11 and that has appeared in circles I have frequented over the last two decades.
As you move through these changing times… be easy on yourself and be easy on one another. You are at the beginning of something new. You are learning a new way of being. You will find that you are working less in the yang modes that you are used to.
You will stop working so hard at getting from point A to point B the way you have in the past, but instead, will spend more time experiencing yourself in the whole, and your place in it.
Instead of traveling to a goal out there, you will voyage deeper into yourself. Your mother’s grandmother knew how to do this. Your ancestors from long ago knew how to do this. They knew the power of the feminine principle… and because you carry their DNA in your body, this wisdom and this way of being is within you.
Call on it. Call it up. Invite your ancestors in. As the yang based habits and the decaying institutions on our planet begin to crumble, look up. A breeze is stirring. Feel the sun on your wings.