Ten Thousand Days

For Every Number, There Is A Name

April 7, 2020

Photo: Tim Mossholder

Day 2056 – Day 2061

Yesterday started out great.  It was sunny.  I was up early.  I wrote a post that I knew needed work but I had time to fix it.  I made a nice brunch to enjoy outside and I made a video.  Things were looking pretty good.  Good, if you ignore the fact that what I wrote was unpublishable.  Great, if you also ignore the fact that, for a 3-minute video, I recorded 42 minutes of me, talking to the camera, about how I wasn’t doing okay.

Maybe we’re all doing less great than we want to admit.  I try to be of service by offering inspiration but even cheerleaders get to rest between games.

I have been watching underground news since January and planning for the worst-case scenario at home and for the company where I work, since early February.  I’ve had the heaviness of how bad things could get resting on my heart for a very long time.  It was a burden that many people mocked back then.  I think many people are still in denial.  Last week I wondered why every nation isn’t flying their flags at half-mast.  The fact that we are not doing this seems like a sign that we really haven’t grasped the tragedy that has been unfolding, for months.

I don’t think we should all be falling apart and unable to get out of bed, although after my 42-minute soliloquy, I did have to lay down, for most of the day, under the weight of things.  For me, there is a sense of alienation that is not the result of living alone and having no in-person contact with another human being for more than 2 weeks.   As happened during 9/11, I feel a chasm opening up between myself and so many people.

Humour and positivity helped me to face being sick and to adjust to my circumstances, during the first 2 weeks of my quarantine.  But it seems to me that much of the humour I see on my Facebook feed and elsewhere just focuses on first world problems (I’ve been guilty of sharing and even making some of it), when the tragedy is a global one and it impacts the poor and vulnerable, disproportionately.  Humour can help us cope, that is for sure.  But humour can feed denial.  I think humour is a way to help us process tragedy, when circumstances are temporarily difficult.  It helps us bridge from the time before to the time after, so that we can resume our lives.

The thing is, I don’t think we can resume our lives, as they were.  Systemic change is here, whether we like it or not.  Personal transformation, for those willing to be moved, is available to all of us as well.   The number of people whose lives have been impacted in all but 9 (as of this morning) countries in the world is almost impossible to comprehend.  Never before in my lifetime has the entire world been impacted by threat and tragedy, at the same time.  For every number there is a name.  For every name there is a story and a decision of how they will bear witness to the greater story that is unfolding.

I have the unwelcome gift of being an empath as well as some weirder gifts that I only discovered in 9/11.  When so many souls are leaving the planet at the same time, the energetic and emotional toll is heavy on me and I’ve been running from it.  Until yesterday, I had been able to get by with partially armouring my heart.  I would sit in meditation, listening to the birds, but not truly meditating.  When I sat on Sunday, everything caught up with me and I was shaken.  I felt unbalanced and began to unravel.  Yesterday, I knew I had to stop running, open my heart, and just grieve.

I can’t be a cheerleader today.  It is right for me to cry.  It is right for me to have a shattered heart.  I can’t talk about a pandemic in abstract terms.  And I really cannot laugh about it.  For every number, there is a name.  For every name, there was a final moment, alone, somewhere.  Last words of love that are forever unspoken.  Souls left wandering, in shock.

I can’t continue to cheer us on,  like we’re all going to be okay.  Because if we are okay when 1.4 million people have officially tested positive for the virus and 76,000 people have already died, then who are we?  If, as a species, we can be okay when the UN warns that 2 million Bangladeshis could die, and globally, mortuaries have been unable to cope with the volume of the dead, then I don’t want to be a part of this species.

I know that may sound judgemental to some people.  Maybe it is.  I am pretty firm in some of my core values, which is out of fashion.  In our work as spiritual beings, let us not condemn others for being who they are, and for feeling what they do.  But, let us not forget that a spiritual life is sacred and having discernment in one’s companions honours the sacred.

I’m so grateful today for the friends that went through 9/11 with me, in New York.  On a smaller scale, we have been through a way-of-life changing event together, already.  There is an unbreakable bond that forms with the people who survive a trauma like that, together.  I’m so grateful that many of them are still in my life, even though we are scattered far apart from one another.  I’m also grateful for my spiritual circles, from New York to India to London to Vancouver and to online circles.   I have many friends but I feel that if I can’t bring my spiritual self to the table, I’m only bringing a shell of myself to the relationship.  I don’t want to do that, anymore.  It is essential for me to be able to be authentic and fully present. I am grateful to the young and handsome man for bringing his gift of wounding to the places where I most need to heal, even as I need to slow down my evolution to a manageable pace.   As much as it hurts, I am actually grateful that I’m able to feel all this global pain, instead of being shut down or in denial.  I think we will all get to the sadness part of the cycle of this grief, in our own time and in our own way.  Right now, it means that I need to turn the dial up my self-care.

Last night I listened to Jesus Christ Superstar.  I listened to the various versions till I found the one that was circulating in my house when I was a child (Murray Head/Ian Gillan, I think).  I went to Catholic primary school and religious studies was part of the curriculum, but  I truly did have a first impression of the gospels as being sung, Rock Opera style.  Music is a great salve and they say that the sense of smell is the most linked to memory but for me, listening to that album took me back to a young version of myself – somewhere around the 11 year-old mark.  She was a very open-hearted girl and was in love with Jesus.  Tapping into her spirit and to the passion of Christ made the tears flow for the suffering that fills the world, today.

For every number, there is a name.  I could not sense every individual, but I started witnessing their passing and, where needed, gently helping some of those thousands of souls on their onward journey.  There is more to come.  I have a headache this morning from it.  But, my heart feels more malleable and at peace.  I’m ready to meditate, to pray, to have strong boundaries and to practice good self-care so that I can serve again.  It may look like I’m doing nothing when I sit in prayer and meditation for most of the day, topped off with time for mourning, but I know that this is the best work that I have ever done.

Photo: Aaron Burden

For what are you most grateful, today?

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