I've been frozen in fear for much of the last three weeks. For the first two weeks of March, especially, it seemed like I'd spend the day adjusting and making new plans only to wake up the next day and have to do the same thing all over again. The San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, began to shelter in place on March 17 and since then my emotions have been all over the map. So many questions have come up, the common thread of which has been "I don't know".
My daily routine has been upended and I've been forced to adjust. How long will things be like this? Two months? Three? A year? Longer? I don't know. The daily count of new cases and number of deaths keeps increasing. How high will they go? No one knows. If me or one of my loved ones gets sick, either with the COVID-19 virus or something else, how sick will we get? Will we have to be hospitalized? I don't know. When the threat finally lifts what will the world look like? I don't know? How bad are things going to get?
I don't know.
How do I navigate this time? How do I move forward? It feels like there are landmines everywhere I look. People are losing their jobs and ability to provide for their families. They're without health insurance at a a time when they may need it most. And people are dying. The world is in fear and pain. Should I feel guilty for being lucky to still have a job? For being healthy? If I don't does that make me a bad person? Am I required to hold space for people less fortunate than myself? Am I selfish if I tune out and turn inward?
I don't know. I don't know.
The only thing I do know is that looking at the future and not knowing what it might hold is scary, scarier than anything else. That might sound hyperbolic. There are plenty of real things that are clearly scarier - losing a job, not being able to find or afford food, losing a place to live, loved ones getting sick, death. But for me, I've been privileged to not have experienced any of those things. Yet. Will I?
Like a steady drum beat, the only answer I have is - I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.
So, instead of looking forward I look down at the ground under my feet. I can manage a glance one step ahead, but no more than that. The here and now. That is where I live. People talk all the time about wanting to be more present and for me this wish has been granted. Because I can answer questions that come up in this context. Am I healthy right now? Yes. Am I whole right now? Yes. Am I in pain right now? Sometimes. Am I ok right now?
As long as I don't have to have to look beyond right now I can answer those questions. I can inhabit my body instead of escaping into my head. I can take action if needed. I am no longer frozen in place.
It is hard for me, this living in the present. I love to plan and think about the future. The present has rarely been as exciting as anything I can dream up about what might happen when... But right now it's all I can manage. So, this is where I will be for the foreseeable future. Right here. Now.