A few weeks ago, I wrote that I feel sad regarding this pandemic. Now instead of sad, I’m angry. I hate this freaking pandemic. I hate that I haven’t been in the presence of another person without a mask in MONTHS. MONTHS. Yes, I’m going on walks with people, yes, I’m doing a lot of socializing virtually, but I just want to sit in the presence of another person and see their whole face. Is that too much to ask?
Frankly, I understand the appeal of the anti-masker, “plandemic” philosophy. It’s much more appealing to believe the pandemic is a completely made up thing that the government created in an effort to control humanity rather than the alternative. Because the alternative is this – not getting together with friends and family for the holidays, not seeing smiles on the faces of people you love, not touching each other. It SUCKS.
So heck yeah I’d like to pretend none of this is real. Why am I sharing this? Because I ascribe to psychotherapist Michael Eigen’s philosophy. He wrote in his book Feeling Matters:
“As long as feelings are second-class citizens, people will be second-class citizens. Experience is an endangered species. An important function of psychotherapy is to make time for experiencing. Psychic taste buds really exist and rarely rest. They feed us each other, gauge states of being, states of spirit. We taste each other’s feelings and intentions.”
This is me offering up my state of being, my state of spirit. It’s not fun, it’s not pretty, but it’s real. And if anger remains unexpressed, it can turn into depression, which explains how I’ve felt this week watching holiday movies and realizing I will not have any of those experiences. I will not be at a holiday party. I will not be opening gifts with my siblings. I will not have a big indoor dinner with anyone. At first it depressed me but now I’m mad. I’m giving a big middle finger to this pandemic because it deserves it.
At the same time because life is complicated, I’m also grateful for the pandemic. This weekend I organized a Zoom call with the young people in my yoga and meditation group and we had attendees not only from the U.S., but also Mexico, Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Germany, and Denmark. I’m not sure that would have happened if we weren’t forced to socialize over the internet. Similarly, I’m seeing several of my college friends every week as we gather for a virtual Shabbat service. That also wouldn’t have happened without this pandemic.
Life is weird and complicated. And that means I can feel profoundly pissed off as well as profoundly grateful. Both can be true. I think being a fully functional adult means holding the paradox over and over again. It means allowing opposing things to occupy the same place. It means recognizing nuance. It means seeing shades of gray. And it also means creating space for our feelings.
I dream of a world where we express our emotions. A world where we feed our psychic taste buds. A world where we allow ourselves to feel happy and sad and angry and grateful and whatever else arises. Because ultimately we know life is nuanced.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.