I’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve read over the past few weeks about navigating our current collective project of re-opening the world.
At first, when writing the sentence above, I tried using a number of different adverbs to describe what this re-opening is like, but none of them fit. This process is different for everyone.
For some it seems slow and delicate, like peeking out from behind a curtain with one eye. For others, it’s like being shot out of a cannon, exploding back onto the social scene with a year of pent-up energy. For a lot of us, it depends on the day, the weather, the stars’ alignment, or other important considerations like whether cake is going to be involved <<shrug>>.
I don’t think there’s one way to do this, but I do know that each of us is going to encounter people who want to do it differently than we do. What makes this different from other situations in which others have different preferences than ours is, well…the trauma.
We’ve been through something really hard. Even though we were “all in it together,” we mostly did it day-to-day alone, or in experiences we literally called “bubbles” with a limited number of other designated humans. Now, we have to step outside of pod-life, and into shared, public existence once again. Even if you’re super excited about it, it’s also at least a little weird, too.
As all mindfulness practitioners know, discomfort is a sign of active living. It also carries information, though. When we are able to sit with our discomfort, we can try to discern what it’s telling us.
Is it ok, but just new and a little unfamiliar? Or is it a “no,” try something else instead? If you’re willing to listen, the answers are there.
What the past year has shown me is that life as I previously lived it isn’t life for me now. I want a different experience. So, I’m working hard to resist the inertia of plugging back in with exactly the same framework I left behind in early 2020. Or, the one that left me, I should say. We all know how our relationship with that year actually went. ;-)
In general, if something feels strange, stop and look at it. If, upon further exploration, it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. There are far fewer obligations in life than you may believe, and even among them, the vast majority are within our control to accept or decline.
As I often say in practice, keep what you need, and leave what you don’t. On the mat, off the mat — wherever you are, that’s where the practice is.