I’ve been struggling lately with mental organization: Grouping needs and prioritizing tasks, making sense of the timing and order of upcoming gatherings and travel, filling out various forms and keeping track of all the associated paperwork has been overwhelming. It’s as though someone has blown up my inner filing cabinet, I told my husband this morning, and now to-dos are falling around me in slow motion. Loose ends are everywhere.
Part of the trouble is volume, another part urgency—the reawakening of the world from her pandemic slumber has created a flurry of activity that all seems to be happening Right Now. There’s a tremendous amount of excitement that comes with re-emergence and, if I’m honest, an uncharacteristic bit of FOMO, too. (When all we’ve done is miss out for two years, it’s natural to want to be everywhere at once, even when you can feel already it will spread you thin.)
This is a side effects of privilege and flexibility and comfort, I know, in that I *can* make plans and I *can* re-emerge and I *can* do as I choose. No one else is in charge of me. My decisions are my own.
What a contrast to what’s happening in other parts of the world, to other people in the world – people, just like me, except that they are NOT in charge. They are NOT emerging, gently, like early spring bulbs into warm sunshine. Eighteen days ago they were going about the mundanity of their lives, the same mundanity we often feel constricted by, and now, if they’re lucky, they are living underground in subway cars.
Their fear is not of missing out on certain aspects of life, but missing Life itself. Their fear is of tyranny and brutality and death. Their fear is terror. Their reality is shock and trauma. Ridiculous loss and grief.
As I think of the unspeakable devastation, the absolute horror and bone-deep despair unleashed on Ukranians these last weeks, it’s clear that overwhelm is not the only thing wrecking my mental filing cabinet; it’s that I cannot seem to reconcile what’s going on in my life with what’s going on in theirs.
Case in point: Later this week I travel to Paris for holiday, for sightseeing, for indulgence, for mere fun. Undoubtedly I’ll be eating chocolate croissants with my daughters while, in the exact same moment, just 1,200 miles from Ukraine’s western border, roughly the same drive from my home in St. Louis to the beach in Miami, another mother will be experiencing the pain of a lifetime.
Then, next month, I’ll be ensconced in the safe surroundings of my favorite yoga retreat center, snacking on vegan brownies and hugging people who have come from near and far to “get unstuck.” A couple weeks after that, I’ll be gathering with friends in Boston, celebrating sobriety and connection and the magic of the internet. And just a couple weeks after that, the kids will be out of school for the summer, hanging with friends, going to camp, and just, you know, being kids.
But what will the children of Ukraine be doing next week? Next month? This summer?
I know it is true, as a dear friend reminded me this morning, that there are always moments of joy happening at the exact moment someone else is experiencing tragedy. There is always light at the same moment it is pitch black elsewhere. A just-born creature takes its first breath in the same instant another takes its last. That is contrast, and that is Life.
I won’t pretend that presence and gratitude and prayer and lovingkindness can negate all the terribleness of the world, but I can’t pretend it won’t help, either. I do not believe the world will be served by a collective holding of breath—that is, after all, the intent of such terrorism—but instead a commitment to energy and Life.
Today, on this first day of extended sunlight, I’m offering up my energy to heal, to stabilize, to bring peace, to ease suffering, to shine light, to *be* light. And if you have some extra energy to send over, I know it would be welcome.