New realities are hard. Really hard.
If you follow either The Boss or myself on FB or Instagram, you know we were in Spain celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary when the Spanish government declared a national emergency due to the coronavirus. We had about ten days left in our trip, but knew it was important to plan our return home as soon as possible. The airline was able to change our ticket to an earlier flight, but it still gave us four days to experience the new reality in Spain.
Unfortunately, this new reality is no longer just in a galaxy far away but at home -- with us. Most of us are living this new reality alongside our neighbors in other countries.
The blame game
One of the challenges when faced with a new reality is the inevitable sense of uncertainty as we become accustomed to the changes. Even if a change results in a better or more positive reality, there is still a period of uncertainty until the newness becomes routine.
And we are certainly not in a situation where the changes we face are creating a better reality!
Our new reality is unpleasant, anxiety-filled, lonely and often, overwhelming. Add the unpredictability created when we cannot answer basic questions like "how long is this going to last" or "when will tests for everyone become available" pushes our emotional response to our limits.
It is difficult to live with uncertainty. In our search for something fixed in the midst of these challenges it is natural to ask "why". And often, in our anxiety, we look for someone to blame for the necessity to live so precariously. In our dilemma we want to focus our emotions on those who caused our problem in the first place -- other people, nations, or political parties -- as a way to ease up the pressure we feel. A way to make us feel better.
But blaming doesn't really make us feel better and is a terrible safety valve.
I would suggest community building is equally contagious -- an antidote to blaming and a more enduring safety valve for our emotions. And infinitely more useful in solving our problems!
When I look on social media I see people reaching out to encourage others, to give of their gifts just to keep us moving forward. Italians singing on the balconies, Brazilians dancing on their verandas, churches offering services online, artists and authors sharing their work, inventors giving their 3-D ventilator designs to the public, neighbors organizing a walking dinosaur parade complete with 6 feet between each dinosaur for the neighborhood kiddos, friends checking in EVERYDAY -- everywhere we see others' efforts to build community across the globe and down the street.
I see you
One of my daughters has given me permission to share a recent FB post in which she expresses our need for community by offering affirming comfort and support to those of us -- everyone? -- who are struggling with this new reality.
I'm seeing a lot of posts from families with their children at home unexpectedly. The vast majority of these posts are of games together, baking, indoor adventures, and lots of happy wonderful things. This warms my heart! But, to those parents at home with kids who are sick, stir crazy, have special needs and their rhythm was just thrown out completely: I see you. To those parents who are sick and caring for sick kids and are exhausted: I see you (I am you). To those families who have everything up in the air and don't know what tomorrow, next week, next month will hold: I see you. To families where this quarantine looks much like normal life because being home all-day with toddlers is rough regardless: I see you.
"I see you" is a delightful game we play with babies and toddlers -- it comes naturally to us to playfully plant the seeds of affirmation and family in our little ones' lives. And it seems it is also a natural community response to dire circumstances -- I see you. Your pain. Your uncertainty. Your anxiety. I see you - I feel your pain.
Let's avoid blaming and continue to check in with family and friends, to use new digital formats to stay in community, to honestly share our feelings and to jump at the chance to offer support when others risk sharing their needs with us.
Let's continue to "see" one another for the long-haul of this crisis.
I see you.