Written by Brian Shircliff, originally published on vitalitycincinnati.org
grief: because to return to old ways of life only leads to death
i grieve the ill
those who care for them
for those who wish they did
i grieve for ones who have not yet awakened that this is a brand new day
but most of all i grieve my life, for what
long before the outbreak made us revisit mortality
(how stupid could we be to forget)
i grieve my old life, embarrassed by the clutchingness, the grabbiness, the overindulgyness
…all of it having so little to do with life
something in me knew it was false, though i played right along…
i mean, Gautama gave us the experiment to know it:
watch how each sensation comes, goes
yet how i ever wanted it to last…
so little to do with life
tears do come for it, being lost and apart from what ‘was’
which is to say,
i let my sail unfurl and take up a new wind
away from what was known, comfortable, always
i set sail for some place else
a birth (berth)
to leave behind the old dance forms for awhile — (square, flamenco, ball, etc.)
and free-form it
not to any old/recorded music
not to any live music either
but the rhythms in the air, the wind, the murmurs of neighbors, fellow creatures
the oldest music of time
to Joseph Campbell it in the woods (a new verb)
to read three chunks of the day and do whatever i want for the fourth --
allow the old patterns present in everything to announce themselves
(how the hero’s journey made foolish heroes of us all)
so i can choose a fresh, untrod path
a true adventure
it’s time to take up my life again
to take up living
even when all around us is death
— the ill, old structures, dependencies --
and be washed in new waters, dreams
where inner sails can finally sleep
— Brian Shircliff
My body is strong and healthy. My hips and shoulders carry my pack, and my strong legs carry me up and down hills. My fingers, hands, and arms are adept at setting up tarps and cooking dinner. I feel good in my body. It is a pleasure to move.
I take care of my body, especially my feet and hands, for I have learned I can do little without them. I attend to scrapes, bruises, circulation, and sensation. I eat when I am hungry, knowing I need the calories to fuel myself. I drink water plentifully, knowing dehydration is one of our biggest risks.
My clothes are functional. They keep me warm and dry. They are comfortable--never impeding my movement or breath, nor distracting me from the task at hand. I wear the same things every day, adjusting layers with the changing weather and activity levels. My hair is out of the way--something I think little about. I smell like a human. I could maybe use a rinse in the stream or to wash my clothes, but there is fresh air to air things out, and at least I smell uniquely and precisely like me.
People like me for my personality and my sense of humor. They trust me for my skills, my judgment, and my leadership capabilities. They care about me and look out for me because we are in this together, and because I do the same for them. They know my fears and frustrations, my strengths and weaknesses, and my medical information and menstrual cycle. They know what I eat and what I don't, and they are next to me when we sleep. They know when I poop, and they ask me how it was.
I haven't looked in a mirror in two weeks, but what does it matter? We're sitting on the ground in the rain and the mud, eating peanut butter with a stick and squeezing jelly straight into our mouths. We are having so much fun, and we are happy.
I'll talk about this more on my Facebook page, but I wanted to share some links to resources for what we're all navigating these days. Take what you need; disregard the rest. Don't try to do everything at once! Breathe. Just do what's easy.
I also want to acknowledge that everyone's experience with this is different. Some of us are luxuriously quarantined with nothing much to do, some are working more-or-less as usual, and some are very ill, worried about finances, food, safety, or on the front lines dealing with the virus. Again, take of this what's relevant to you, disregard the rest, and please reach out if you need support.
- Connect with people!
Reach out to friends and loved ones. Pick up the phone, use Zoom or Facetime. Talk about what's happening. Talk about how you feel. Support each other, ask for help when you need it, offer help when you can. Organize community events and discussions online with Zoom.
- Do Feldenkrais!
Take care of yourself and take this time to examine yourself and your patterns.
You can access most of my recorded Awareness Through Movement lessons for FREE on my Patreon.
My teacher also has some excellent lessons available for free: Feldenkrais Access Free Lesson Library. Or check out The Feldenkrais Project.
- Get outside and get some exercise!
Strength and Conditioning Guide from Inhabit: Territories
Get a few free weights and try the Happy Body Workout
Find a local trail and go for a hike, go for a walk in your neighborhood, find a yoga video to do online
Bullet points, paragraphs, stream of consciousness... it doesn't matter how you do it or what you write about, just write!
- Try a sit spot!
Find a place in your backyard, balcony, or somewhere nearby and just sit outside and observe. Try it for 10 minutes a day or 40 minutes a day. Let your mind settle (or be busy), and notice how the animals come out as they get used to you. Observe the weather and the change of the seasons. Give yourself some time to rest, breathe, and notice.
- Try the Wim Hof Method!
Known for it’s effects on stress, anxiety & depression, the immune system. They’re running discounts on all the online trainings to make it more accessible because of COVID-19, but you can also start simple and download the phone app for free. Or check our his YouTube videos, especially "Wim Hof's take on Coronavirus (COVID-19)"
- Cook, bake, prepare food, and ferment!
Be creative with what you've got in your pantry. Try a new recipe with a loved one. See if you've got any wild foods growing nearby outside.
Read Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. The way he talks about how fermentation relates to our health & immune system, cultural homogenization & rehabilitation, and social change is mindblowing. “In a country almost clinically obsessed with sterilization Katz reminds us of the forgotten benefits of living in harmony with our microbial relatives.”
- Listen to music, make music, dance, sing!
There's also a billion courses, museum visits, concerts, etc. now available online for free. Just look around.
But also, is there something to be learned from just being bored? Is there a gift to be had in all this free time? Is there a gift in the uncertainty?
I’ve also recently gotten into holotropic breathwork, which is known for it’s profound effects on releasing trauma and stuck emotions. I don’t have any online resources yet that I’d recommend, but I’ll update if I hear of some good ones.
Here's a great message from a friend of mine with ME/CFS: "In times of uncertainty, we have a defense mechanism to try to predict the future, because we think if we can predict the future we can be safer.... But we're sacrificing this present moment by worrying about what might happen.”
And check out Krista Tippett and On Being Studio's “A Listening Care Package for Uncertain Times”
And of course, stay updated on CDC guidelines and recommendations from the World Health Organization, as well as local guidelines and recommendations.
What If the Virus is the Medicine?
"5 ways coronavirus could help humanity survive the ecological crisis" from Local Futures: Economics of Happiness
Noam Gamady: "Questions That Can Make a Difference in Your Life"
"The Coronavirus Called America’s Bluff" from The Atlantic
Shamama Group has an exciting new opportunity in Grand Rapids and a great message: "Out of the ashes, beauty will arise."
"An Herbalist’s Advice on COVID-19, Influenza, and Other Flu-Like Viruses" from the School of Integrated Living
Check out this free three-video series from the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion: "The Power of Self-Compassion"
Writings from Morgan Hite:
"Power’s hold over us is equally demonstrated by emergent forms of social control and by the utter disregard with which they cast aside our lives. Our inability to survive outside their broken system is rapidly being confronted by our dwindling chances of surviving within it. To resist their control has become inseparable from the urgent need to care for one another. How to treat illness, how to care for the vulnerable, how to overcome isolation, how to reinvent presence, how to live with dignity and perhaps how to die with it. These are among the revolutionary questions of our times." from Inhabit: Territories
“But the old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; He knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too. So he kept his children close to nature’s softening influence.”
— Ola K’Te (Luther Standing Bear)
Is God’s most dangerous face--
Amorphous, roiling, hungry.
Alter the speed
Or the direction of Change.
Vary the scope of Change.
Recombine the seeds of Change.
Transmute the impact of Change.
Adapt and grow." - Octavia Butler