Updated: Jan 11, 2021
It's a rainy day and it's a Monday where I live. Knock it off Karen Carpenter song from the 70s. Ok? There's so much more to do than just frown today. For the youngins reading this, Karen Carpenter was this lovely musician who wrote this very sad song, "Rainy days and Mondays" in 1971. In the song, she felt she could do nothing else but frown on such days. That and clearly write sad songs to which I say, no way! Not today, Karen Carpenter. No despair today. But, I have a few questions. Was she sad on all rainy days? Or just Mondays? Or was she sad on rainy days that also happened to be Mondays? Does anyone know?
I'm reminded of this song because despite it being a new year and the sense of wonder I feel about the newness of it all, we've now lost 360, 364 people here in the states–360, 364. The number itself is staggering and yet even as I'm writing this it's increasing. I don't think the magnitude has sunk in for a lot of us. How can it, really? I think it's almost too much for our limited nervous systems to take in. Losing even just one person we care about can be too much. And yet, I sit here trying to take this all in, the fullness of it while also staying mindful of the overwhelm that arises.
Reducing this overwhelm means taking out and practicing all of the tools I've developed over the years on a moment-to-moment basis. It means working with all of the emotions including noticing when I'm shutting down, which also means allowing myself a good cry when I've put on a "brave face" for too long. It also means meditation, journaling, exercising and my daily gratitude prayer. The list goes on and yet...the space between the being and doing remains. And sometimes it doesn't feel like enough. Sometimes, the intensity of the reality we're all living in hits me with brute force and even after all of my practices of sitting, being and doing I still face the question, "Now what?". I notice it when I'm still...this feeling of "not enough" and a sense of wanting to help, to ease the suffering in the world, and to do this in an authentic way. Sometimes I feel that sharing my experience with you is a way of helping. After all, storytelling can help us tap into a shared consciousness wherein reading someone else's thoughts and feelings can connect us to one another. It can help us feel less alone and relieved that there are others who feel helpless, overwhelmed, hopeful and grateful.
I wish I could tell you the one true answer to "now, what?" The truth is I don't have one single roadmap to sanity or joy in dark times. Besides, it feels strange to sit and preach about something that trivializes the human experience and attempts to serve as a panacea like the infamous power of positive thinking is supposed to. Besides, I think the answer to "now, what?"is unique for each of us. And we all have to go on our own spiritual and psychological adventure to find it. What's comforting for me, is that I've got this amazing toolbox which I'm starting to share and this is what has helped me watch the rain fall today without the Karen Carpenter melancholia. Maybe, just maybe, it's about offering up who we are, the love in our heart, and the wisdom we've gained along the way. Maybe that's enough. Sending you all so much love. Jenna