We’re just shy of six weeks here in quarantine and I’ve hit the wall.
I took the dog out this morning, which I have been doing in the very early morning, when there is almost nobody around (eery, but nice, too), and we walked by our first condo, purchased for a whopping $219K. It was lovingly and beautifully restored by the architect owner and I remember that although I felt like we were moving to outermost Mongolia, having lived on Newbury St. for seven years post-college, Manhattan for a year and then Back Bay for another few years, that what I said when we decided to take the plunge and buy it, was, “Nothing bad could ever happen to us here.” That’s how it felt, so pretty, nothing could touch us in a space so perfect.
But of course, I was wrong. It was at that address that I had three years of infertility, that Peter didn’t get tenure at M.I.T. (the best thing that could have happened, as it turned out, but not when you have a three-month-old baby and your wife refuses to live anywhere but Boston), that I lost my mom. Although every door had been restored to its gorgeous natural pine, antique windows installed, a fireplace refurbished, the floors refinished and every wall painted a serene and soothing color, the bad stuff still came. It always does. Whether you’re Jeff Bezos rich or Bill Gates brilliant, or Brad Pitt famous, or Halle Berry gorgeous, you’re never immune to the shit hitting the fan.
And although today I am in a bad mood, a sad mood (apparently a rhyming mood), I know that there are two things that prepare you for moments like this pandemic, where there are losses too many to count, where everyday heroes work at grocery stores and medical personnel are now worthy of sainthood, and we all possess them. I’m talking about resilience and gratitude. And while we may ignore them, they lie dormant in our DNA (as my yoga teacher reminds us during meditation, to remember our ancestors, and what they lived through, wars, famine, bombings, death camps, pandemics, starvation, poverty and that their blood is our blood) so we can do this, we can do anything. If people have done it before, we can do it, too. If you have ever felt happiness, you can feel it again. It snows in April and then the temperature rises to 60 the very next day. Resilience isn’t ignoring the facts, the horrific facts, it’s rolling wtih those facts, feeling them, letting them take you down even, but then allowing yourself to rise up again like you were a fucking NASA space ship. It’s facing tragedy, or road blocks, or sadness and getting up the next day anyway. Resilience is necessary to move through, to get over the hump, to take the body blows that come. If you befriend resilience you can not only get through this pandemic, you can get through anything life kicks at your face.
Then there is gratitude. Our other sturdy best pal. Rely on it, hug it, bring it to bed with you and use it as a sleeping pill. What is it that you have? What is it that you are so lucky to have? A bed, those soft sheets, people who love you, potato chips (yes, I do believe potato chips are something to be grateful for, damn straight). Think about those things you have, those little tiny things, those enormous things, those things that aren’t things at all–friendship, love, freedom, centeredness (potato chips). Bring ’em all into your heart to remind you that you are ok, just fine, have all you need to make a bridge over those hellish waters and walk gracefully across it holding your head high.
Yes, that is what I remembered today on my walk with Riley is that resilience and gratitude are the crutches we need when we can’t move, when we are blinded by fear or sadness or both. They are steadfast and reliable. And they are present. All you have to do is ask them to come. And just like that, without protective gear, they are next to you, helping you to remember that it’s all going to be ok (ish) and that you are strong, stronger than you feel.