It’s ok not to be alright
I had a phone call with a colleague the other day, we hadn’t talked in some time. I asked her how she was doing, she started to answer and stopped. Then she said, “I’m struggling, but getting by.” We then fell into a conversation about why we feel the need to always say we’re ok. I think there are a few reasons. First, I don’t think we want to look weak, especially with people we work with. Second, I think we try and not load anything on other people, work relationships are often quasi-friendships, so it’s not quite comfortable to drop your guard and be that vulnerable. Which is why I was honored by the conversation my colleague was having with me, it let me know that our relationship is at a comfortable level and that she trusts me. Finally, I think we say we’re ok, because the conversation is mostly pro forma, and we don’t really expect an answer.
It’s been a long haul with COVID, the news keeps getting worse, at least in the immediate. Long-term things are hopeful with a couple of vaccines going through the approval process in the US, one approved in the UK, one approved in Russia. Vaccine distribution could start in the US as soon as this month. But we have a solid six months before vaccinations will be wide-spread enough to really start changing things. And in the meantime we are setting unfortunate daily records for new infections and deaths each day. Something like two Americans a minute are dying from COVID right now.
In the midst of all of this we’re all being impacted. Some at the most unfortunate levels by contracting the disease and dying from it. Others of us have had people we know die from the disease, have had family, friends and acquaintances get sick. Our work has been impacted, or has disappeared, people are losing their housing. So it’s been a long haul, and quite terrible for many.
I’ve been fortunate, while I’ve had some people I know die, and some family members get sick and recover, almost all of the people I care about are ok, still have their jobs and are doing alright. There’s a flip side to things being difficult but ok, if you get frustrated with the smaller things related to COVID, you feel guilty about being upset because you’re not dealing with the other, worse things that are happening.
For me, work went through about six months of pure insanity in terms of the level of work after the virus first hit in March. In October, things started to get better. However, if you read this blog you know this about me, travel is my great release. The arrival of COVID caused me to cancel a bucket list trip to Antarctica, then a backup plan bucket list plan to hike in Tasmania. I did escape for two days to Nevada in late October after another vacation was cancelled due to work commitments. I had planned two trips to Anza Borrego State Park in the Mojave Desert. Both trips to coincide with meteor showers, so I was really bummed to lose out on the trip in October. December though is even a better time to be in the Mojave so I had that, until yesterday.
I was supposed to leave this Thursday for five days in the desert, but COVID ICU levels in several regions of California have resulted in the state park system closing all of their campgrounds. Last night I got really depressed about this, I’ll keep my days off, do some local day hikes. But what I’m losing out on is something that is really critical to my happiness. I’m a bit of an anti-social loner, who from time to time needs to get out of civilization and be alone in nature. It’s been over fifteen months since I’ve been able to do anything that truly allows me to re-charge the way I need to from time to time.
I was really looking forward to getting this break, to be able to be alone, to hike and to just lay out at night and watch one of the best meteor showers of the year. I even bought a new camera to do some astrophotography work but given the 10PM curfew in effect, the meteor shower goes out the door as well. So I’m pissed, I’m bummed out and that has allowed the weight of everything that’s going on to just fall on me. And that’s when the guilt hits, given what others are dealing with, even losing their very lives, I have nothing to complain about. But it’s always that way, you can always find someone who is worse off than you. Personally, I don’t believe that invalidates your own disappointments, depression and sadness. I think we say we’re ok, because we know this and we don’t want to appear self-absorbed or unconcerned with the greater ills of others. The point of tonight’s post is to give you permission to not be ok. I think you are a capable and empathetic enough human to be able to understand the gravity of what’s happening in the world and still be bummed out you can’ attend a friends wedding, go out to a restaurant, take a vacation, or travel to see your family and hug your mother.
So it’s ok, to keep things in perspective AND still not be ok for a time. Don’t get swallowed up in it, don’t fall into a depressive well, but take a minute, a day or a week whatever you need and let yourself be sad for yourself. Then, like I’ll need to do soon, get yourself together, stop feeling sorry for yourself, move on and have happier days again my friends. ~ Rev Kane