Mine is not a particularly stressful life. My basic needs are met. I know my kids will be fed. I have great support systems: family, friends, colleagues, students, church. My traumas have been few, and my griefs have occurred within the compassionate circles of people who know how to love. My greatest stresses are the ones I put on myself, usually: taking on more than I can accomplish, frittering away too much time that could be spent actually doing things I love.
In the face of stress, I tend to go all British: keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on. Often that serves me well―it keeps me from getting too deep into the circular ruts that I can gouge in my brain. Fall down. Get up. Keep walking. Fall down again. Get up again. Continue. It works. And my gratitude and mindfulness spiritual practices have helped to keep me away from the ruts.
Today, however, my mind began to enumerate all the stressors that have plagued me in the past few weeks. Instead of entering the ruts, as I began to list them all, I suddenly began to feel a weight lifting. The tiredness and crankiness and insomnia and heaviness that have begun to plague me seemed no longer unreasonable. In the past month, I have felt a little buffeted, a little at the mercy of fate. When I can recognize that, accept that it gets me down, maybe I can offer myself a little compassion, take a rest, and move forward.
1. It started several weeks ago, with the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. How to hold that? How to respond? How do we break an organization with such power and grasp as the NRA?
2. Shortly after that, my family started getting sick. Fortunately for us, none of us got the full-fledged flu, or at least our immune systems battled well. But all of us got sick. One child was out of school for almost a week. The parents were both just barely holding on. We probably should have all taken a sick day together and just laid around getting our rest and fluids.
3. Finally we made it through the worst of the sickies, and then we got hit by a wind storm that took out our power, water, and heat for the best part of three days.
4. Monday, the morning after the power finally came on, my eldest son fell up the stairs on his way to class and broke his arm. We finally managed to get him back to school and practicing for a performance this weekend.
5. Today at lunch, one of my students, who sits near my desk, said she heard my phone vibrating behind the desk over and over again all period. I woke it up, and it lit up with phone and text messages saying that my youngest son’s school (his entire district, actually) had been evacuated due to a bomb threat.
6. And through it all, I have continued to try to figure out what my role is in resisting the Death Eaters who seem to be taking over.
That’s a lot of stress. And at each point, I realized how fortunate we are:
1. Comforting community
2. My children are well and healthy for the most part
3. Three days is not very long to be without power, in the grand scheme of things, and we could go to my parents’ house for heat and water and light.
4. A broken arm is not a concussion, is not a chronic disease, is not a long-term problem. Little kid bones tend to heal fast and well.
5. My children have many adults, from family members to teachers and administrators, who are looking out for their safety and best interests. And I know that their classmates whose families have fewer support structures than we do also receive the same benefit of caring and tender teachers and administrators.
6. No one has to resist the Death Eaters alone. We’re all in this together. And it’s been done before.
May we walk in Beauty!