Postcard from Paradise 1

In these extraordinary times so many questions bubble to the surface like the word bubbles in the game of the same name I’ve been playing obsessively on luminosity, the supposed antidote to an aging brain. Will I catch the corona virus and as a high-risk person die? Am I ready to die? Will the world as we know it come to an end and will that be a good or a bad thing? Will people I love get sick and how will I care for them? What’s being asked of me and of us? How can there be so much unbearable suffering in the world? Where can I get 60% alcohol and do I dare to go to the fruit bowl or the post-office. Will I be able to attend the summertime EMDR workshop I’ve signed up for to help people deal with trauma? – like now trauma. Is this what I’ve been preparing for with all my yoga, meditation, ceremonies and planting gardens and painting my house purple making it so comfortable and so me, because its where I am going to be forever. How can I be of service? How do I stay safe? Why do I feel more tired after a day of Zoom clients than in person sessions? Will I ever get to hug and be hugged again? The questions keep bubbling up, like my breath – signs of life.

I read too much news, watch too many videos, luckily don’t have TV and sway between wanting to know the latest and then putting my bare foot down and saying : “Enough”, like my young daughter told me when I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV after 9/11. It’s not that I don’t care but that I care too much and it’s not good self-care. In between Zoom clients I do a vinyasa – a yoga sun salutation – a stretching and breathing transition from one pose (client) to the next and, if I have time, I play a movement of one of Bach’s French Suites on my electric piano while I wait for the Pandemic to be over so the piano tuner of compromised immune system feels safe to make the trip from St. Croix to tune my Astin-Weight upright grand. Even his assistant, young and uncompromised won’t compromise and come over.

I face-timed with my best friend from 6th grade in NYC. She showed me the emptiness of 5th Avenue and 10th street with the blossoming cherry tree on the corner by the church I walked by a million times growing up. I wrote an emotional support letter for my friend in Italy to travel home with her yorkie but Italy shut down the borders and she takes long walks in the fields of Tuscany while her kids worry about her. Another friend is stuck for who knows how long in London, separated from her husband. And these are the lucky ones, like us. I read poems that speak about how “after the war not everyone will be left standing” and stories about doctors making their wills and Trump not releasing ventilators to New York and fighting with Governor Cuomo – about weighing the benefits of saving the economy vs. saving lives and shudder and rail.

I signed up for a Writers in the Pandemic group. Each day I receive writing prompts like: What is the pandemic teaching you about what you value? and What does embracing chaos look like to you. My answer:

Embracing Chaos looks like feeding the mangey tough guy cat who showed up last week to hone-in on breakfast for my 5 member formerly-known-as-feral cat family. A hard knock life kind of Tom, he skulked on the sidelines waiting for an opening and for food. The Humane Society is not taking any more animals. They are completely inundated and these extraordinary times are not conducive to the trapping, spaying etc… that I did with my FKAF family. I went inside and got some extra food and placed it at the end of the sidewalk in front of my house. My heart melted when I saw him notice the little pile with his name on it. I watched him eat for a bit. I knew that I saw him as one of the vulnerable ones, who, like me, require extra love and protection and it did me good to embrace a cross species kindred spirit amidst the chaos.

We are going through a collective near death experience and my prayer is that we’ll emerge over the top grateful, mindful, and so in love with life that we will reconsider and change our priorities on a massive scale (like money, pipelines, fracking, factory farming, health care) and where it really matters, in our hearts: our connections to each other, to the earth and to the divine.

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