This week we are told that we can extend physical contact. We can emerge from isolation and connect with select ‘family bubbles’. I ask, what is a bubble when I and so many of my close friends live alone and have no blood family? I don’t always come to a full stop at stop signs when I am riding my bike, because they were placed there intentionally with car drivers in mind. My isolation has relieved by plenty of great bike rides and touchless visits with my covid fam. The principles are correct, but every situation is unique.
This little pandemic episode has us each in our itty bitty cubicles of mind, grains of sand on a shifting dune. How do I balance the I and the we?
In my right pocket is a slogan: Trust your own eyes. Don’t be so swayed by the opinions of others: the judgy and the fearful; the stink-eyes and the snitches. The watchers hiding behind the curtains, calling the cops on young people playing soccer in the park. The aspirations of my immigrant grandparents, and the stuff that society calls success. Whose eyes, whose eyes, do I see through?
In my left pocket another slogan: There is only one point. The point is too let go of self-clinging. In other words get over myself. Can I relinquish my position at the center of the universe, remembering that there are others, so many others, huddled together under this same umbrella? Never mind the cherished opinions that define my identity. Circumstance changes day by day, moment by moment. Am I really acting for the greater good, or am I just placing another brick on the Great Pyramid of Me?
The child in me rebels against rules and recommendations. It is not always easy for me to be kind to that angry kid, without overly indulging her tantrums. I do understand the point of physical distancing, the many don’ts dos. I respect the expertise that crafts these guidelines, born of experience and science. I try to maintain harmony and to respect others’ feelings and fears, even if I might believe they are excessive or even harmful. But my own eyes can’t blindly accept edicts that don’t recognize my unique reality.
My challenge is to respect the recommendations and apply them to my situation, as I have done from the very beginning – if not to the letter of the law. I will stay close touch to the chosen family who I trust and love, and I will step forward, onward and outward. Both me and we: assess and extend.
<with thanks to the Tibetan Lojong teachings, Norman Fischer, and my teachers: Michael and Kate>