The empowered self
Life really is coloured by how we take it, even in the midst of disaster. Today each of us faces a world we never dreamed would exist - lock-in, well almost, at least we are allowed to get out and exercise, unless the virus has caught us. For some this is torture, locked in a single roomed bedsit with one child or more, no outside space apart from empty street, for others this is bearable - they can while away the day, pottering in the garden, even exercising along country lanes.
But whatever we have to face, we must each first face ourselves and that determines the way ahead. Granted, things outside our heads may not change, things may get worse, but if we allow frustration, irritation, anxiety, depression, even anger to seep in, everything looks and feels worse. The place in the brain we feel physical pain is exactly where we sense emotion, which means we physically hurt or feel bodily better, depending on our mood.
In my case, each day starts by rising above the physical mire poor health creates, overriding the consequent negative emotions and thoughts, remembering there’s people worse off, ensuring I enjoy breakfast. And dealing with the desire for comfort, for we are living in an empty house we’d cleaned up and painted for a friend and whose only comfort is a metal garden bench and a camp chair. All our stuff’s been in storage since July. But I tell myself, we aren’t homeless, that’s a boon.
Back in June, visiting the first of the five houses we’ve fallen for, it all seemed so simple but I won’t recount every step of each disaster, house by house, expending all our meagre savings on fees to surveyors, structural engineers, planning authorities, experts of many a sort for each property, only to discover that those four houses had too many complex problems.
And then number five, honey coloured, perfect and in a slack market our low offer was accepted. Tired after months perched on a steel bench in an empty house, desperate to settle, we pined for comfort. But the vendor refused to answer any of our solicitor’s questions which delayed and delayed and delayed the process. Six weeks went by and gripping the keys, we bounced up the street only to be devastated by filth which took us and a professional cleaner 8 hours to partly remedy. Lifting the vile carpets we discovered the floors needed replacing. Lock-down was rumoured, businesses were closing down so we spent a hectic week ordering building materials. Lock-down began, the builder went home.
We are left with a dusty building site and pressure to move from the empty rental. Despite my physical condition, we looked into buying a tent and a loo-tent and living in the new garden wild with brambles. And lock-down. But we’ve a home, we’ve an outside space, we’ve money to buy food, we’re not dying in a Nightingale Hospital, we have each other, we are rich.
It isn’t what happens to us, but how we take it that defines the quality of our lives and as I remind myself of this daily, I feel sorry for anyone fighting for their life in hospital today, for none of us know if this virus will take us, or not. In several English and French hospitals I’ve lain amongst the dying, the dead, was one of them, was almost wheeled out stiff myself three times. I’ve seen the fear which entangled those people’s experience. I've noted the peace one or two people had, knew mine too helped me. The last time I was in Accident & Emergency a short while ago, the medics were wonderfully kind, concerned, gentle in every way and it made my unpleasant experience so much easier, so if we are kind to others we spread a wave of ease which helps those who are struggling.
Not only can we help NHS (hospital) staff by maintaining social distancing, but ourselves by reaching for a place of peace inside ourselves. This empowered self makes their job (and our experience) better. That’s why I try to start each day in the same way, stretching, appreciating, loving life as it manifests imperfectly around and within me.