I’ve been sitting with something for the last couple of days, and I want to share it here.
The context is the experience of “sheltering in place” as a response to the Coronavirus. I’m fully participating in this ritual out of the desire to stay safe, and to flatten the curve of its spread.
While at home, I’ve been feeling a full range of emotions, from sadness and fear, to compassion and hope. I’ve shared my thoughts with colleagues about the importance of grief as a bridge to a new world.
But there’s something else happening, too…
It is the deep and profound experience of pleasure and JOY I am having while sheltering in place.
I can hear the old stories of guilt drummed into me as a child. Perhaps you also brush up against these thoughts. “Don’t show too much happiness while others are suffering.” “Be humbly grateful for your blessings, and keep them hidden.”
Over the years, I’ve come to understand that we don’t do anyone favors by hiding our joy and happiness.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand that we don’t do anyone favors by hiding our joy and happiness. Genuine joy is a contribution to the world, and is quite different from self-congratulations, a distinction not everyone perceives.
The media offers no shortage of braggarts, giving us daily, cringe-worthy examples of what not to do, and making it feel risky and vulnerable to express delight in ourselves, or our experiences.
But my current experience is so thrilling, I want to dive into it, to explore it, and to discover what it has to teach me. I am enjoying being home with nowhere to go, and no one to see. I love how quiet the world feels, how the constant buzz of frenzied action has slowed, and how the connections I do have with people feel present, deep and loving.
And I’m grateful for the uninterrupted time to focus on writing.
I spent three hours yesterday afternoon outlining a story I want to write. I waded deeper into a near-death experience I had as a teenager, and learned new things about its purpose in my life that I had never seen before.
In this time of sheltering in place, I am discovering a deeper intimacy with myself, a deeper intimacy with my Voice, a deeper intimacy with my husband, and even a deeper intimacy with the human race. I feel waves of pleasure and delight in the simplest of moments, and an abundance of love and appreciation for everyone and everything.
The more we honor Life, the more deeply we receive it, and let it move us.
Allowing myself to revel in the pleasure of being alive is a form of celebration. The more we honor Life, the more deeply we receive it, and let it move us.
I’m obviously not glad for the crisis of the Coronavirus, and the suffering of so many that will likely proliferate in the days ahead. But amidst the chaos, I am celebrating this opportunity to slow down, to find solitude, and to create discipline with writing that offers tremendous gifts.
In some ways, the opportunity for solitude has always been there, but the unique circumstances of the moment are making it available to me as never before.
So, I just want to open a door of permission to anyone out there who is finding this sheltering experience to be a gift. It’s ok to feel pleasure and joy!
And if those pleasures feel out of reach, I encourage you to intentionally reach for them.
In fact, I think it is part of the deeper function of this global crisis, for each of us to reconnect to the simple, soulful pleasures of being alive… To rethink our priorities… And to dream, and imagine, a more awake and connected world on the other side of this experience.
What is possible for each of us, and for the world, as we reconnect with this kind of joy? I can only imagine. And so that’s exactly what I am doing. I am opening my imagination to dream beyond what I have dreamed before. With each new dream, my hope increases.
This is a magical time to be alive.