Social Distancing??? An Essay (or a journal entry…don’t know which)

This will be a mixed media post with stuff to look at, to listen to, watch, and to read (later, if you wish). I hope it inspires, informs and tickles you.

 

I wrote this in a note to a friend today…

We are living the pages and chapters of future history and philosophy books.
I hope we learn the abundant lessons in our faces right now…for the sake of our grandchildren, and theirs, and theirs….
(Lyrics at bottom of page)
I do understand all the steps and precautions we are needing to take in our communities, our countries, our planet during this Pandemic. I live in the USA’s Ground Zero, and I myself, am in three of the highest risk categories, so I appreciate people being thoughtful in their proximity to me.
But…
Social distancing?? What the hell! Hasn’t technology already been giving us too many tempting examples of that? It’s easier (faster) to text or email someone than to call them. Parents are freaking out about the damage caused by too much screen time for their kids. AND, Distracted driving statistics are horrifying!
Distracted driving deaths

Roughly, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured daily in accidents in which at least one driver was distracted

Heck, there are even patronizing (but wonderful) commercial campaigns on TV against too much social distance created by technology. My favorite is the one where the mom secretly trips the household electrical circuit, shutting off the video games, and forcing the kids to go outside to play basketball. Or the one with two couples, out to a fancy dinner, never looking up from their phones…while texting each other!

 

Many, many years ago now, I was asked to write a review in the Pre and Peri-Natal Psychology Medical Journal, of a book called Untouched by Mariana Caplan. It was a powerful description of what we, as a species, needed to consider in light of the rapid changes happening in human contact, brought about by the age of technology.

Here’s the review, in case you want to read it later…

https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-1380835931/untouched-the-need-for-genuine-affection-in-an-impersonal

(The book has since been re-published under the title To Touch is to Live: The Need for Genuine Affection in an Impersonal World by Mariana Caplan)

 

My feeling today is even though we may be more distant physically, touching each other and looking into each others eyes less, we are potentially, miraculously and profoundly more “in touch” with each other than ever before. 
Or at least we can be.
I have not hugged my best friends in years, but I can tap my phone a few times and be right in the same room with them, face to face, while still 5285 miles across the planet. How amazing is that???
Believe me, I am NOT saying this phone contact is anywhere nearly as satisfying as a bear hug, a snuggle on the couch, or a meaningful look into their eyes, but I have to admit, the alternatives are fairly tolerable….as long as they are balanced by the occasional in-person visit.
And now…”Social Distancing”??? I get it. I hope it saves us, but I feel compelled to issue this precaution. If we have to do this for very long, it can (and will) become the norm for a whole species, making all of our former natural, tactile, kinesthetic expressions of human affection, respect, comradery, kindness, and love seem foreign, suspect, improper, and even dangerous. (Whew! What a sentence! What a THOUGHT!)
20200318_103830
the main photo I use in my therapy practice…
In an exhausting attempt to keep myself grounded in my deepest spiritual beliefs during this global (and personal) crisis, I search each and every day for new perspectives on all of this.
I am including below, some things I have found online (thank you technology) that have been comforting as well as enlightening to me during my already extended period of being “grounded”.
I love reading what Joan Borysenko has to say about things. She is a Harvard Medical School trained cell biologist and licensed psychologist…and one of the more spiritual people I know. She wrote this a few days ago:

Since last week, a lot has happened regarding the novel coronavirus. With the sharp uptick of cases, and the projection that a majority of Americans could be infected, we are now being directed to prepare for the likelihood of staying home much more.

As a psychologist, I am always looking for hidden opportunities within life’s inevitable difficulties. One possible opportunity I see, is to become more mindful of how we react to fear and uncertainty… and to cultivate greater resilience and gratitude for the good things in life.

This immediately made me think of the song Resilient by Rising Appalachia. I post this song often. It is one of my main themes these days. Worth a listen (and a viewing) again.
Pump up your volume and watch it standing up. See if you can do that without bursting into movement yourself!
Then, this also crossed my path. It is actually the thing that shook me out of my own personal “wide spread panic” and got me to remember that the way I was seeing what’s going on in the world was not the only way to look at it.
Blush.
And me, all the time preaching about Chosen Perspectives!!
It came from Facebook (which I am not on) and it had a name on it so I’m going to credit that person.

Amongst all the fear and confusion, there’s this…❤️ a different perspective …

There is so much fear, and perhaps rightfully so, about COVID-19.

And, what if…

If we subscribe to the philosophy that life is always working out for us, that there is an intelligence far greater than humans at work…

That all is interconnected.

What if…

the virus is here to help us?

To reset.
To remember.

What is truly important.

Reconnecting with family and community.

Reducing travel so that the environment, the skies, the air, our lungs all get a break.

Parts of China are seeing blue sky and clouds for the first time in forever with the factories being shut down.

Working from home rather than commuting to work (less pollution, more personal time).

Reconnecting with family as there is more time at home.

An invitation to turn inwards — a deep meditation — rather than the usual extroverted going out to self-soothe.

To reconnect with self — what is really important to me?

A reset economically.

The working poor.

The lack of healthcare access for over 30 million in the US. The need for paid sick leave.

How hard does one need to work to be able to live, to have a life outside of work?

And, washing our hands — how did that become a “new” thing that we needed to remember. But, yes, we did.

The presence of Grace for all.

There is a shift underway in our society — what if it is one that is favorable for us?

What if this virus is an ally in our evolution?

In our remembrance of what it means to be connected, humane, living a simpler life, to be less impactful/ more kind to our environment.

An offering from my heart this morning. Offered as another perspective. Another way of relating to this virus, this unfolding, this evolution.

It was time for a change, we all knew that.

And, change has arrived.

What if…

Gutpreet Gill

 

Thanks for reading this today. More than ever, I’d love to have you comment…share your own experience…connect with others about this.

Last thing about practicing Social Distance

 

 

 

Lyrics to above songs:

Climbing to Safety by Widespread Panic

You tell me love, has always scared you
Like the things under your bed
Baby, we can walk on water
Like some junkies swore they did

You call me on the phone, you say that it is crucial
Stick your fingers in your ears ’til they explode
It’s just business, and it rolls along as usual
Must grab each others collar, we must rise out of the water
‘Cause you know as well as I do that it’s no fun to die alone

After all that I’ve been through, you’re the only one that matters
Climb to safety
You never left me in the dark here on my own
Climb to safety
I can feel the water rising, let me be your ladder
Climb to safety
I promise you’ll be dry and never be alone

After all that I’ve been through, you’re the only one that matters
Climb to safety
You never left me in the dark here on my own
Climb to safety
I can feel the water rising, let me be your ladder
Climb to safety
I promise you’ll be dry and never be alone

Yeah, climb to safety
Ooh, climb to safety, safety
Yeah
Climb to safety

 

Resilient by Rising Appalachia
I am resilient
I trust the movement
I negate the chaos
Uplift the negative
I’ll show up at the table
Again and again and again
I’ll close my mouth and learn to listen
These times are poignant
The winds have shifted
It’s all we can do
To stay uplifted
Pipelines through backyards
Wolves howling out front
Yeah I got my crew but truth is what I want
Realigned and on point
Power to the peaceful, prayers to the waters
Women at the center
All vessels open to give and receive
Let’s see this system brought down to its knees
I’m made of thunder, I’m made of lightning
I’m made of dirt, yeah
Made of the fine things
My father taught me
That I’m a speck of dust and this world
Was made for me so let’s go and try our luck
I’ve got my roots down down down down down down deep
I’ve got my roots down down down down down down deep
I’ve got my roots down down down deep
I’ve got my roots down down down deep
So what are we doing here
What has been done
What are you gonna do about it
When the world comes undone
My voice feels tiny
And I’m sure so does yours
Put us all together we’ll make a mighty roar
I am resilient
I trust the movement
I negate the chaos
Uplift the negative
I’ll show up at the table again and again and again
I’ll close my mouth and learn to listen…

Reblog from my friend Karuna

Please, please…for our grandchildren…

Dalai Lama Quote

“To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up.”

― Dalai Lama XIV

Martin Luther King Day 1/20/2020

Over the Holidays, I started binge-watching West Wing on Netflix…well, to be honest, I should say RE-binge watching. I actually own the fancy boxed set so have seen every episode many, many times…just not for a while. (We currently don’t have a single DVD player in the whole house.)

I started it again in early December as a distraction from some personal drama, but I quickly realized how much I have needed this kind of political antithesis for quite a while now.

Trump Escapades Inundation should be a category in the DSM-5 under the PTSD diagnosis heading…

My only real connection to POTUS is that I truly empathize with his hair issues, my own having thinned dramatically enough that I have to experiment with all manner of the “comb-over”.

Watching the brilliant portrayal of how life in the West Wing, and in our country, could and should be has been just as inspirational this time through as all the others.

I am a die-hard Aaron Sorkin fan and have absolutely loved everything he’s done; all the movies, and TV shows, especially Sports Night, the Newsroom, and the way too short Studio 60. We need a ton of sentimentality and idealism these days just to counteract some of the other stuff that’s happening. And Sorkin is the master!

The last episode I watched had the following quote in it.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral. Returning violence with violence only multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of start.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And then I remembered a couple of days ago I saw the episode where Aimee Mann singing James Taylor’s wonderful song, “Shed a Little Light”.

So in honor of MLK day, and to do my part, for just a few moments, to distract from all the…well, you know, I found 3 versions of this beautiful song.

The first, just the song so you can concentrate on the lyrics (printed right below).

Next, a really moving cover by The Maccabeats and Naturally 7  that James Taylor himself really liked!

And last, another wonderful, uplifting version by James and friends.

If you can sit through all three versions, you’ll be singing right along by the end, and maybe even a little inspired to Keep on Trucking no matter what unbelievable thing you-know-who does tomorrow.

1st version…

“Shed A Little Light”

Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women living on the Earth.
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood, that we are bound together
in our desire to see the world become a place in which our children can grow free and strong.
We are bound together by the task that stands before us and the road that lies ahead.
We are bound and we are bound.

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Shed a little light, oh Lord, so that we can see, just a little light, oh Lord.
Wanna stand it on up, stand it on up, oh Lord,
wanna walk it on down, shed a little light, oh Lord.

Can’t get no light from the dollar bill, don’t give me no light from a TV screen.
When I open my eyes I wanna drink my fill from the well on the hill,
do you know what I mean?

Shed a little light, oh Lord, so that we can see, just a little light, oh Lord.
Wanna stand it on up, stand it on up, oh Lord,
wanna walk it on down, shed a little light, oh Lord.

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist, there is a hunger in the center of the chest.
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
and though the body sleeps the heart will never rest.

Oh, Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
and recognize that there are ties between us.

All men and women living on the Earth, ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood.
2nd version, James’s favorite cover…

 

 

3rd version, sing along. I dare you!

 

Thank you Dr. King, for being one of my most important teachers…

 

Weekly Prompts-ClocktheTime 11/23/19

Fair warning (as I have stated before about my blog…I share happy stories AND painful stories), as of this writing, this post has no happy ending.

 

Clock the Time

Perfect for me this week. And I hate it!!

I’m in the middle of the longest, most frightening period of time I have experienced in my 71 years of life. In reality, it’s only been about 7 days so far, but for most of the last week, time has “stood still”, you know, the way it can sometimes when it loses all meaning! But in the moments when relevance has slipped back in…hmm, it’s been 13 hours since I’ve eaten anything…the time passing has seemed like an eternity.

I’m having one hell of a time Choosing My Perspective!

It’s been a little like attending a childbirth…where the only important clocking of time is tracking the number of minutes between contractions, or the more important clocking the time issue, the number of hours of labor so far. I’ve attended so many births and in the latter example, I would be vaguely aware of crossing that somewhat subjective line, mostly determined by the Doc or Midwife. It happens when a labor goes from what will later make a good story-I was in labor for 16 and 1/2 hours to the…Uh-oh, this is taking way too long moment. I know that look, that Uh-Oh facial expression on the face of the person there to “catch” that baby…

All the waiting this week has also triggered some deep, internal philosophical debates about the passing of time and the theory about feelings/emotions I have always taught my clients.

My basic premise has always been what I learned early in my training and education as a Psychotherapist.

-Emotions are basically biological…a physiological response to some perceived trigger, real or not.

-Feelings are not right or wrong. They just ARE!

-We can’t control a feeling response…only what we do with it…what we conclude from it and how we express it.

-Ignoring feelings completely is not good for us. They are going to need expression eventually…and the longer we wait, the more messy, and out of proportion they can become.

So this week, I have been trying to practice what I preach. But I’ve gone completely blank.

I had an experience of this kind of Clocking Time a few years ago. It challenged my beliefs about if, how, or when to express feelings. In a routine physical, an enthusiastic young Doctor decided that I had what looked like a life-threatening disease. Melanoma. She concluded that it had probably already metastasized. The biopsies to confirm this would take 48 hours.

A long couple of days, huh? I did not want to give myself over to the looming panic, but I also did not want to ignore the waves of feelings that were coming up, threatening to wash over me tsunami-style. What a balancing act that was! Luckily, I also knew to trust my gut, and the hard-earned knowledge I had of my own body.

My gut didn’t believe it, so I “waited” as that clock ticked fairly calmly. And it turned out to be, of all things, just an “age spot”!

During that eternity, on the clock just 48 hours, time had very little meaning. But a lot of other stuff sure did. Moral, ethical, philosophical debates raged in my head and heart.

Should I tell my family? Don’t they deserve to know?

Hell NO! There’s nothing to tell yet?

Yes but I always do scary things like this alone and never ask for support. Shouldn’t I reach out?

For what? You don’t know anything yet. Just wait!

Ya but I KNOW how PTSD works. The sooner someone who has been through a trauma can feel the resulting emotions, the better.

Yes but, has there actually been a trauma? You don’t know yet.

I think I was able to survive that two days of time standing still because of that little internal voice that was whispering to me that I was fine. When my gut reaction was confirmed, I could feel a huge relief and then use that to turn the whole thing into just an anecdote. Thank goodness, I also knew to get some “there, there” from my closest people. Turned out it was not a death sentence after all, but I still needed empathy for what was a rather a grueling stretch of stopped time!

I know why this current period of Clocking the Time has me in such a state. Fifty some years ago my mother went missing. I knew she was in serious emotional trouble. She had attempted suicide just two years before and this time, I recognized that same dark, dark resignation and resolve the last time I saw her. But because I was only a teenager, no one in authority would listen to me. For three eternal days, I looked for her, more and more frantically as each hour passed.

My gut was right. And I was too late. When they finally found her, she’d been dead for 3 days.

 

Right now, we are 7 days into hoping to hear from (or about) my teenage grandson, who “ran away” in a very dangerous state of mind.

My gut is failing me. Strangely and frustratingly silent.

And it’s been the longest week of my life….

juju-not-feeling-well

 

 

Photo Challenge Clock the Time

From Darkness to Light

Warning:

When I first started my blog, I warned readers I would be posting a lot of music and photos and humor (well, I think I’m funny at least), but would also occasionally have a heavier story to share.

Today’s post is an example of the latter.

A wonderful, provocative challenge was issued by Sreejit from The Seeker’s Dungeon. 

He said “I am asking you to rip yourself open and put yourself back together again; explaining where you’ve been and where you are headed.  In so doing, we hope to help others understand that they are not alone on this path.”

Then, encouraging us to dig deep, he wrote “Many times our darkest moments are what end up turning us towards a path of light. It is these soul shredding moments that I want us to share here. Let us in on one of the moments that took you from darkness to light.”

The following story is my response to his challenge. It’s long, and may be difficult for some readers. I would really appreciate comments, if you read it.

I am posting the link to his blog so you can read it there. That way, maybe you’ll  glance through some of the other posts also. These have been some beautiful and powerful stories.

From Darkness to Light Day 16 by Kathie Arcide

Thank you,

ChosenPerspectives