Yesterday I went to my favorite craft store for poster-making supplies. After suiting up (mask and gloves) I entered the large, cool cave of a place. Almost empty. The muzak was light and airy, for a vibe that was totally “Walking Dead”. Only a handful of people pushing empty carts toward possibilities: in search of inspiration. As I rounded a corner of an aisle, a masked woman shouted at me. Not in anger, just to be heard through her mask. She asked, “What’s the best glue for scrapbooking?” Not a scrapbooker myself I replied, “I dunno – maybe something clear?” (Why do people often assume I know ‘what the hell’ about whatever they need?) I stood there with her a minute – as she looked at the bazillion types of glues. She thanked me. What for? “For stopping to socialize with me. You don’t even know how badly I needed contact with someone.” And it hit me: so many people ‘out there’ feeling alone, isolated, desperate and panicky. The realization that more people than I probably realize are coming apart emotionally. What do we need to know and understand about others, and ourselves right now?
My writing process is simple, but sometimes frustrating. I have to be in a receptive spirit – open to what I call “downloads” from The Universe. When they come, they arrive as a string of experiences that share and reveal a common theme. If I get a few of those “taps” on the same topic, I know I need to write. To Blog about it. It must mean something, right? Maybe only to me, but that’s ok.
So yesterday I ran into this woman, who I know really wanted to talk for longer than I had patience for (download). I came home, still thinking about how her eyes looked above her mask. Almost tearful. Doing some light reading, I came across a new book review by a psychologist who’s tapped-into a timely topic: the freak-outs many are going through right now. Lack of social contact (download).
The psychologist expressed the basic premise of her book as a contrast of personality types. Extroverts, she said, are the ones suffering bigtime from decreased connection with others. Introverts, she continued, are happy with the way things are and “would be very content if (social distancing) remained a lifestyle.” This ultimate “download” for me took the shape of mild outrage. I despise generalities. Especially where human nature and behavior are concerned.
I also took exception to this author’s belief that “people who come from large, loud families” (like her own) tend to “do better” in times like these. A pre-fab social network that acts as an emotional safety net. So, those of us from small, dysfunctional families are prone to not be as resilient? Au contraire: most of us are resilience personified. We’ve had to be; learned to be. Does that mean we relish the idea of being alone? Nope. But if forced into that situation, we’re not going to wander into The Pit of Despair (please stream “The Princess Bride”) and stay there until we turn into dust.
This pandemic, with the behavioral and attitudinal mods it requires, is not a competition. Whatever anyone needs…total submersion into social media; a walk and talk in a craft store; bingeing Netflix, Hulu or HBO (particularly ‘dark’ and dystopian these days); prowling Williams & Sonoma for the best panini-maker; pounding it out on the Peloton; or cuddling in bed – with a cat or dog – until noon…that’s what needs to happen. No one is any better at “this” experience than anyone else, and for sure: no one should get caught up in judging anyone else’s response. Patience, compassion, consideration and acceptance is what we all need, and what we can all give to one another. It’s a different form of ‘relationship’ right now, but I truly believe it has a staying-power that we’ve yet to understand and appreciate.