I am starting with a question for you all. What does your life balance sheet look like after 14 months in a global pandemic?
This is a unique time in all of our lives. No story has dominated the news cycle anything like Covid – not in our lifetime. If you wanted to look for comparisons, you would have to go back to the Second World War. Absolutely nothing has dominated our lives like the pandemic.
So, how is your life going? I get asked this a lot mainly because I am in my fifth month on Noom and they tend to ask you lots of questions that call for a certain amount of personal reflection. I think it’s worth the trouble. Since the beginning of January I have been able to shed almost 20 pounds of excess baggage and I am looking to lose 10 more – Nomm likes it when you make public declarations!
How do you figure out your balance sheet in the biggest global crisis you are likely to see?
For me, it has to be a balance – Good, Bad and yes, Ugly. There is some of all of this for me and I would say probably for you too.
The Good is important, it is what we value the most and it is what paints the brightest self portrait. There are good things going on because of Covid. I have signed up for a Ph.D. which I will start this fall. I have had enough time to reflect that this is a good life challenge for me and many of you in the Twitterverse actually supported my decision to take this on – thanks for this.
I mentioned Noom, that is something I am doing with my partner, Heather and along with this we are new converts to the Peloton which is helping up get our hearts and I would say our heads back into good shape. Both of these healthy projects took flight nearly 10 months into the pandemic. Think of that; we have done our fair share of languishing, but we decided to take something back, get some greater control in a world where so much is beyond us.
One big positive thing in all of this has been the noticing. Early on in the pandemic I started walking our dog Dory all the time. This was Dory’s version of the Peloton, and she is still looking pretty sleek! The walks allowed me to see all around our neighbourhood and some of the walks eventually took Heather and I as far as the Ottawa River – these walks unfortunately were beyond what Dory could manage.
The walks and the photos are a long-standing Good that has come out the pandemic. Once you really start noticing the world around you things begin to open up.
The Bad is not somewhere I want to dwell. We all hear this all the time, every day. It is almost comical how many bad news stories our local CBC Ottawa radio station is able to conjure up. They seem to take a certain glee in featuring yet another colourful local story about how our lives have been strained and drained over the past 14 months.
My Bad is the same as everyone’s. The places we can’t go – Kilimanjaro – Cuba – Montreal – the Maritimes – you get the picture. The people we can’t be with – for me this is mainly family. Our meetings with family are challenging and sometimes downright silly like when we all hid under a canopy on Christmas Eve in the middle of a torrential rainfall.
So, let’s not linger, the Bad is part of our shared experience, it varies depending on people’s circumstances, but we all share the Bad.
What about the Ugly? What does that look like for you? How have things become ugly for you and for your world? The Ugly could be your social media. Here we have a neighbourhood Facebook Page where post after post decries the habits of some of the homeless people in our area. That is nothing but Ugly.
For me too social media has played a part. When you can’t see people except for their screen, sometimes things can go terribly wrong. Just a few days ago I totally lost it when something I had spend hours on got a bit messed due to a technical glitch. Really, no one’s fault, but I totally lost it.
Why does this happen? How is it that it seems easier now than ever to become totally unhinged?
I later apologized for my bizarre behaviour, but I am perplexed by the Ugly. Can we understand this? Can you talk about your ugly side?
While I love the Good and accept the Bad, the Ugly has me wondering. What is going on? In other cases, long-time friendships are at risk because of some of the strains brought on by the pandemic.
I do not have any answers to finish off this post. The Ugly is what it is and I do hope the damage is not permanent. For me in times like this, I like to go back to Pema Chödrön and all of her wisdom. She is truly a voice for our time. She talks about treating ourselves, even with the ugly with loving kindness:
But lovingkindness—maitri (Pali, metta)—toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.Pema Chödrön meditation
This is my answer to the Ugly. We are challenged to treat ourselves as fallible humans capable of great things and sometimes of true ugliness. We don’t dwell in the Ugly instead we lean in to learn.
We lean towards the Good, we acknowledge the Bad and we learn from the Ugly.