As the hand sanitizer dispenser has become the great symbol of COVID-19, it’s an even better metaphor for trying to sterilize our feelings, experiences and personal evolution
Sigh. Oh, life in the time of COVID-19…twists and turns and twists again.
Alas, if you know anything about me, you know that I will attempt to squeeze the meaning out of everything…yes, even a pandemic. Such is living life in metaphors.
No matter how much I get knocked down — and no matter how long it takes to get back up…I will seek…because it is oxygen amongst the cloud of pollution.
Life for all of us is different — different in too many ways to recount. We all get it. And yes, some of us have found ourselves resisting at times and making things more difficult than they need to be, but that resistance is often a call to our intuitive selves that just says, This doesn’t feel right. Pay attention.
I certainly have many opinions about the pandemic and how it has played out (and continues to do so), yet this blog isn’t about my Coronavirus opinions. I did however, choose to take a recent trip to bring my son back to college — and I dared to travel to one of the ‘hotspots’ on top of it, Miami.
I decided that if it was safe enough to send him on a plane back to University, it was safe enough for me to accompany him and help him move into his new living situation. It wasn’t without great consideration, sprinkled with a bit of uncertainty and unease. I honestly had to meditate and pray on it a bit. And decide what was my truth — to weed through the fear.
Is this fear mine? Does it feel like a real threat to me? Or…is this someone else’s fear? Life isn’t about consensus, it’s actually an internal conversation.
Now to be upfront and clear, I’m not saying this isn’t a ‘real’ virus with a real threat — nor am I sprinkling unicorn dust over this and making light of it. That said, being with my son through each of these moments in his life means the world to me…and I wasn’t missing it.
I packed, planned, took precautions, gathered my masks, wipes, hand sanitizers and got ready to roll. But it wasn’t without a price. I knew if I left New York, I would return to consenting to being tracked and traced (literally) — not to mention a mandatory 14-day quarantine at home (with a fine of up to $10,000 looming over my head for non-compliance). An order from the NYS government was summarily sent to me the next day. It was all still worth it. Ask me that again 2 weeks from now when I haven’t left my yard!
But seriously, I didn’t need a mandate to do the right thing. I didn’t need a mandate to tell me not to go near others if I was sick or experiencing symptoms. But don’t get me started.
The first sign I received that everything was different while traveling was that I found a prime parking spot just outside the airport terminal. Of course, I thought…this normally crowded garage was virtually empty because pretty much no one is traveling. The airport was a ghost town. The shops and restaurants inside shuttered aside from one or two. Not even a Starbucks coffee to be had! Seats at the gates were marked with large X’s and police tape to designate the need for social distancing. Hand sanitizing stations installed everywhere…literally everywhere.
Even boarding and deplaning procedures were different (and enforced). No in-flight service. Empty middle seats. Five minutes after we were all settled in our seats (a flight of 20-25 people I might add) the steward got on the overhead system and said, “Yes, I’m sure you’ve all just pulled your hand wipes out, wiped down your seats, and tray tables and summarily shoved the discarded wipes in the seatback pocket (guilty as charged). I’m going to ask you not to touch the seatback pocket and not to place anything in there. We will come around continuously to collect garbage.” And they did.
In other words, the message was: just sit there, don’t touch anything and try to hold your bladder until we land.
Masked and gloved the crew went up and down the aisles smiling. Within a short time after takeoff we were handed a sealed clear plastic bag of provisions to last us the flight; a small bottle of water, a few snacks and a napkin. All quite procedural. It was eerie. All of it. But to be honest, both the airport and the plane seemed incredibly clean (kind of like I’ve never seen before).
This whole thing is quite interesting to me. You see, though I would never have considered myself a ‘germaphobe’, I’ve had handwipes in my car and handbag for as long as I’ve been driving and traveling. I was always mindful of washing my hands and wary of dirty door handles, we haven’t worn shoes in our house for 20 years, etc. And the last thing I wanted to do was be around anyone who was sick. So, I didn’t need COVID-19 to teach me anything about this. OK, admittedly…maybe I am a bit of a germaphobe. Wink.
But this version of ‘sanitizing’ takes it to a whole other level — and it got me thinking, separate and aside from the pandemic, how we are taught to sanitize everything; our feelings, experiences — lives. Worse yet, how we get in line and normalize it.
There is nothing normal about trying to wipe away pain or to remove discomfort. There is no industrial strength wipe or spray that can wash away true emotion and touch the depth of our wounds — aside from, well — touching them. I began to ponder our personal evolution and growth. So, yes, the newly installed hand sanitizing dispensers became the metaphor in my mind for avoidance of the bigger issues at ‘hand’ (yes, pun intended).
Life calls for us to get in the mess of our emotions to go deeper, further, farther.
I chose to embark upon this new adventure and chapter with my ‘boy’. I ventured out into the world and took it for a test drive. But just as it is at home, nothing felt normal or the same — and no hand sanitizer could change that.
As my sister, who lives in Miami drove me to the airport as I was heading home, I said, It feels like Mother Earth is throwing up right now. Nothing feels right. We’re all in a bit of a mess that we must navigate through. I reminded her to pay attention to what is coming up…what feelings, what fears, what things need to be resolved. She agreed and we sat in contemplation for a moment.
I wish I could simply run my hands beneath a hand sanitizing machine and presto…BOOM…all my troubles melt like lemon drops. I wish that the pandemic would disappear and with it all my own pain and suffering. But we can’t sanitize our lives or our journeys. Don’t be afraid. We are meant to get in the muck and mire. We must stay attuned to our intuitive selves. We must listen and think, show up and question…what is life presenting me with and why?
My Grandmother always used to tell me as a young girl, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”
As I’ve said before, clearly, God and my grandmother must think I’m a badass. But you know what? There is a badass that resides within each of us and s/he doesn’t need to be sanitized, s/he needs to be seen.
A sanitized life is devoid of contact, connection, hugs and humanity.I know. I know. Sanitizing is all the rage. However, COVID-19 or not, an un-sanitized life is a full life — a life full of ups/downs, grit and glory, pleasure and pain. We are all of it. We are birthed of it. We become more of our Best Selves within it. And most of all, we will get through this. What do you want to look like on the other side of this? Don’t sanitize this precious opportunity for your personal evolution sweet souls no matter how it looks and feels. Trust that it is happening for you, not to you.
Have you caught yourself ‘sanitizing’ emotions or experiences in your life — brushing them off, making light of something, dismissing your intuitive self? Please let us know in the comments below what’s been showing up for you and how you allow yourself to get into the messiness.