US Transitioner Beth Lively shares her reflections on what lockdown looks like for her.
I’ve had a lot of uncertainty in my life over the last six years. Now everyone on the planet is feeling it too and, despite the public health and financial hardships we’re all facing, it’s comforting to have the company.
I live in the States and moved cross country six years ago. I’ve not had the fortune of making many close friendships during this time so I live much of my life outside of work as a homebody alongside my partner and our dog. This being quarantined doesn’t feel much different from my perspective and now lots of folks are homebodies and the “alone, together” mantra makes me smile.
Since the governor here ordered everyone to stay home, I’ve spoken with people out walking, riding bikes, skateboarding, and walking their dogs more than ever before. A neighbor started a Facebook group for the neighborhood and now I’m connected to 50+ people that I didn’t know before. I took part in one of those drive by birthday parties through the neighborhood and it was surprisingly and wonderfully uplifting.
To avoid the grocery store, I started buying vegetables, meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, and yogurt direct from farmers and fishermen. I felt the need to start building relationships with local food producers and even joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which is something I’d always wanted to do. It’s been a treat to shop this way.
I’ve also enjoyed some online groups of a spiritual nature and reconnected with my spiritual center back home now that they are online. These have been helpful, supportive, and pleasant distractions.
The quarantine has been oddly connective for me. On April 28, the virus claimed the lives of the Smiths, the parents of my best friend growing up.
The Smiths were in their 80s and died 12 hours apart from one another. I was shocked by their deaths and shocked for their children to lose them both together. And I was surprised by the warm flood of memories that came over me from childhood, from the neighborhood where we all lived, and from the school days where we interacted. Mr Smith was the high school football coach and Mrs Smith a teacher; together they impacted many lives. The high school turned on the football stadium lights that Friday night so people could drive by and pay homage. It was all so sad and deeply touching even from far away. They were also friends with my parents so part of the community that I knew as home.
I think I had been holding my breath a bit, waiting to see who would be the first person I knew to succumb to the virus. It’s strange to say but, I feel more settled into this pandemic knowing now what this particular kind of loss feels like. These two losses felt sacred. This husband and wife were among those who the world slowed down for and physically distanced for. They were among those who we let go our routines and sometimes paychecks for. And among those for whom I looked to the night sky and wondered “what next?” Somehow, I think they may also play a part in how I move forward.
I was supposed to be in Ireland right now with my partner and my sister and her husband. None of us are frequent travelers so it was a disappointment when the borders closed and the flight got cancelled. I felt a significant sadness at the start of the week about not seeing my sister, not seeing that beautiful place, and having yet another reality check into what so many others have lost.
Last weekend I woke with the urge to wail. It wouldn’t come so I provoked it with sad music. I didn’t wail, but I did cry a little and that was helpful. I also have moments of weightless clarity when I fully feel the joy of knowing I am alive.
I’ve not been afraid to die. I have been freer with my emotions, weeping easily with the public displays of singing in the streets, online musical collaborations, and food drives. Anything that shows the generosity of the human heart opens my heart right up. It’s been wonderful watching people around the world care for one another and make each other laugh – the fly over of the Italian military jets streaming the colors of the Italian flag really got me. People have really turned out for one another.
I am still employed and able to support meaningful work from home. Yet I wonder if there is even more important work I could be doing right now. At some point in all this I switched from asking what was it that I wanted to do, to what does the world need me to do. This was new for me and a question I sit with. The quarantine has helped me remember how much I enjoy writing even if it is a tribute on a high school football Facebook page, a loving text to a friend, or these thoughts shared here.
Thank you for the question and for the opportunity.