As the announcement of another extension on these lockdowns is released in Ontario I can sense the lack of motivation affecting so many within the collective. The to-do lists are left undone, why bother it’s not like anyone is coming to visit. Tackling what seems to be endless pile of laundry, we find ourselves wondering how is this possible we only leave the house once a week. Walking past that same pile of dust bunny’s day after day, knowing that a year or so ago we didn’t have time to deal with them. While today we sit with nothing but endless amounts of time on our hands yet can’t be bothered.
Not to mention the births, birthdays, graduations, weddings, celebrations of life and so many other events we feel robbed of having enjoyed over this period of time. Then we turn on the news or fire up our social media feed to be bombarded with what is happening outside our bubble. Extending that news coverage further we look at other provinces, countries and how this is impacting the entire world. Then it hits us we look around and have four walls, have full bellies, some even still have a job. The thought that often bubbles up is “how could I be so ungrateful?”
Gratitude doesn’t come from only embracing positivity. Not allowing one’s self to grieve the losses traps our emotions deep within us and holds us hostage to emotional overwhelm. We need to allow ourselves time to grieve what we feel we’ve lost during this time, no matter how fortunate we are. We need to open the door to the emotional toll this period has placed on us with little control to engage in activities which used to light us up. We need to understand why we feel cheated, we need to be grateful yes but also aware of how this has impacted our day to day lives.
When we plan our lives out we forget no matter what our plans are there are factors which will always be outside of our control. Think about that new mom who spent years trying to conceive, then it happens during the pandemic, her plans to connect with girl friends for play dates are not going to be possible. Or that college/university student who is in their last year of schooling and is stranded in a dead-end part-time position because they can’t land that interview virtually. All these small businesses like myself who have spent years dreaming of being their own boss, then make the leap and circle the pivot cue into utter exhaustion. The young couple who spent years planning their wedding only to have it cancelled. We are truly all in this together but only from the stand point of suffering because some of us are privileged and we can’t gloss over that but this doesn’t mean we cannot suffer or grieve.
Motivation doesn’t come in a bottle, a workout or an inspirational blog post (yup I threw myself under the bus). While these things may ignite a spark, they do not force us into action. It is through our own acceptance of our needs that we are able to feel what we need to feel when we need to feel it. We are universally connected through the sadness of it all. So why not embrace that so that when we can be together we truly value each and every single moment of that. No more phones at dinner, no more wait I just need to send this email, no more pause on presence to get that task done. Just be present in honour of every moment we missed out on.
That is the lesson in all this no matter what our social/financial status, religious beliefs or cultural background we are all impacted by suffering. Yes, it can always be worse but that doesn’t acknowledge the present losses and the emotions tied to them. It isn’t a race to the bottom to compare levels of suffering it is a challenge to rise to the top despite those losses.
When our new normal returns we will need to remember all the things we wanted to do, all the places we wanted to be, all the people we wanted to hug and of hopefully the previous to-do list full of menial tasks won’t matter because we will be far to busy living our lives to worry about laundry and dust bunnies.
So, go ahead write a list of what you’ve missed out on, shed some tears for those losses and show yourself some compassion for navigating a situation many of us have never had to in our lifetime. Write those losses on post it notes and hide them as reminders. Then remind yourself of everything you still have within your soul, that this human experience couldn’t rob you of. Celebrate everything you managed to make happen, every obstacle you overcame and each and every enlightening moment of knowledge you gained throughout this time of struggle.
Although it is difficult to see our way out we can celebrate the fact we will all be more mindful of how we spend, cherish and celebrate our lives going forward. We can celebrate the light that still resides within that is always shining no matter how hard it seems to be or get. We can have faith and hope that better days lie ahead of us then the ones we are leaving behind.