How are you my friends? How are you doing in this new time of rapid change, deep fear and amplified uncertainty? How are you managing the new imperative to distance ourselves from one another? Are you making it a dance or are you hunkered down under the covers?Social distancing is what the decision makers are calling it. Is that what they mean?
I don’t think so. Medical professionals and government leaders are asking us to create physical space; 6 feet, between us. They are asking us to create a zone of protection around ourselves to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus. Of course, you all know that intuitively, but semantics matter. Does physical distancing really equal social distancing?
Again, I don’t think so. Rather the nature of this pandemic underscores how absolutely interdependent we are in this day and age. It demands that we come together dropping petty differences and partisanship. It is waking us up to the need for space. Yes, physical space AND more importantly space to Connect MORE Deeply with each other. This wave of disease is asking us not just to slow down; but quite literally to stop and recognize our interconnected humanity. We must have compassion for the intense struggle so many of us are going through.
I see so many of us answering the call for community support. We are finding ways to contribute; Some of you are a medical profession working long, intense days and nights to heal the sick; others are federal, state, or local government workers trying to keep the cogs off our society moving forward; then there are volunteers supporting the vulnerable populations, and countless others contributing to virtual tip jars for the millions of newly unemployed.
And I see so many answering the call for deeper individual connection. Teleconferences, which have become a new normal for many, now begin with check-ins on how each other are doing. These are not mere cordialities; people are taking time to express genuine curiosity about the wellbeing of the others. In turn, colleagues, business acquaintances, fellow community members are shedding some of their protective layers and allowing others into their world as they turn on their video cameras and welcome them virtually into each others’ homes. How beautiful!
Similarly, school aged parents are connecting on a whole new level with their kids. While the homeschooling world is full of foibles for us newbies, I have such gratitude for the opportunities to bond with my children in unexpected ways. My favorite new pastime with them is the very interactive, mature and insightful conversations about their study topics such as the Cold War, STDs and vaccines. As challenging as it is, I know many parents are discovering fun and satisfaction in the task. The parents who are making these discoveries are the ones who are both creating and allowing space for their kids and schooling! What a gift!
So, I am curious; do you see these guidelines for physical distancing as a choice or a privilege? I see it as a privilege and gift that millions can’t choose because of their front line jobs in medical facilities, grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. These people,of course, choose to show up but often out of deep seated desire and need to fulfill their Hippocrates Oath or more significantly put food on the table for their families. Many millions would gladly forgo this privilege if they could earn wages to pay for the basics of food, health and shelter. Others still MUST stay apart and isolated from family, friends and strangers alike because of compromised immune systems or high risk factors. Sure they choose, but it’s a choice between life and death. As a privilege, physical distancing must not be underestimated in its value to save lives by reducing the spread and flattening the curve of COVID-19. We who have the privilege must use it and be grateful for the opportunities it gives us.
Now, when I have the privilege to practice social distancing while engaged with others outside my household, I’ve been fascinated by my own movements and those with whom I am interacting. As I move left, so does the other. As he steps forward, I step back. We shift in response to each other all in an effort to create the space needed to remain connected. It feels so much like a dance that in these situations a song comes to mind; Let It Be A Dance written by Ric Masten and published in the 1993 Unitarian Universalist hymnal Singing the Living Tradition. Below is a youtube rendition of this uplifting ditty. Take a listen and then let me know: May I have this dance with you?
These are hard, devastating, and terrifying times for so many. There is so much fear and overwhelm. AND we cannot let ourselves be consumed by the darkness. We must recognize our choice in how we view this situation. We must look for the light and hope. We must strive for more connection, not less. We must allow the space for growing more deeply connected rather than further apart. We must remain fluid in responding to others movements with curiosity and compassion. Look for the rhythm in these movements. Listen for the rhythm of your soul; our collective soul, and move to the beat.
How will you open yourself to connecting more deeply?
Where do you see the gifts in these challenges?
Let it be a dance!