Growing Pains in Covid Times

Good morning everyone…

There’s been something percolating in my heart and mind all weekend that I don’t have absolutely clear thoughts about, but I do well to let things out and sort out the details as I go.  I am, as are we all, a work very much in progress.  So I’m going to share this and see what happens.

Friday I made an exasperated post on my fb page about “The Party” on the 4th of July that has now become infamous and thrashed more than a few peoples reputations and social standing in our community (that’s a big deal in a small town).  The tone of my own post was shaming, centered as it was on “we must take this seriously: we must do better”.  I made that post in a moment of exasperation and I’ve questioned myself on it ever since I saw the comments and shares pile up.  There was hypocrisy in my words, and it’s been eating at me.  Now that I’ve seen the info make it out of state and can feel the potential ramifications of the criminalization of all gathering with beloveds, I am seriously questioning how I participated in the vilification of the event and the social media frenzy of general vilification, shaming, and “trial by twitter” in regards to any and everything happening right now (thanks, Steven Grant).

There are a few reasons I call my own words hypocrisy.  One is that I have been to a few gatherings since the pandemic and the lockdown began.  A few have been small and with close friends and I feel fine about that. I will continue to feel fine about that.  We need each other now more than ever and being with friends is hugely important.  But one in particular was a gathering of around 50 people in an indoor setting where none of us were doing any mitigation measures and the organizers only nod to the virus was “If you don’t feel well, don’t come.  With all due respect to Covid, we feel that it is time to get on with our lives” (that’s an almost direct quote from the invitation).  That sounded fine to me at the time, and was how I was feeling as well.  At that time I was holding the virus in the frame of knowing that statistically speaking, it’s not that big a deal (read the whole thing before you burn me down over that one line) and also, and more so, that I would not submit to have my freedom to love and gather with my friends to share my gifts and celebrate life be compromised for something that I did not actually see evidence of around me.  I am also holding an array of information that leads me to believe that this entire situation was planned and is part of an enormous effort to centralize the world into a one world government (look up Event 201 if you want to learn a little bit about the non-coincidence of a Covid Pandemic Planning Exercise that happened last October, sponsored by Bill Gates who stands to make trillions from the vaccines being developed that will necessitate the final “re-opening” of society.  And Event 201 is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of evidence that this was planned.  It’s some seriously scary shit).  So I was in a similar place to that of the organizers of “The Party” were when they planning and subsequently enjoying the thing.

So here’s why I call myself a hypocrite for my shaming tone: I absolutely understand why people are gathering.  We’ve been in this whacked limbo for months with shitty to non-existent leadership and utterly confusing information about absolutely every aspect of this virus from how it works in the body to how it travels between people to how to treat it and beyond.  Take masks for instance: from the popular motto “masks save lives” to “this mask will not mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in any way” written on the side of N95 mask packages to Fauci quoted as saying “masks don’t really make a difference, they just make people feel better” while CNN has now gone as far as to say that people who won’t wear masks are psychopathic, there is a lot being said about every detail of this thing, but it all goes in different directions and none of it really makes much sense to the layperson (that’s us).  Compounding this is an incredible array of attendant complications to the shutdown of the economy and the restriction of life on every level (Governor Newsom just outlawed singing in Church, for fucks sake, while the very appropriate protests involving thousands of people yelling, singing, dancing, and rubbing shoulders in all manner of way got his full endorsement), and what we are met with, at the most basic level, is that we can’t live this way.

We can’t live in this endless, amorphous fear of something a lot of us can’t actually put our hands on, we can’t live in this limbo about how to relate, we can’t live in this isolation that is driving many to economic ruin, depression, substance abuse, violence, and suicide.  We can’t live without each other, and the governments tactic of pressing us indefinitely into conceptual cages of separation without clear leadership about how we are going to deal with this to help us believe that this is being handled well, while expecting us to submit to the increasingly constrictive measures being enacted against us in the name of answers and plans that are nowhere in sight except for the fucking experimental DNA mutating vaccine being developed that may be ready by December if it skips clinical trials, all the while withholding any inkling of a possibility that this is going to change into something livable again in the near future is unsustainable to the maximum degree, and people aren’t going to do it.  They are going to lose focus.  They are going to do what they want and need to do, which is to connect, and to live.  So I understand why people are gathering, and because of that my tone in my original post was hypocritical.   I understand wanting to gather and dance and celebrate and laugh with friends in a beautiful place in the height of summer, the season of celebration and connection.  We are hurting, and we need relief.  Zoom concerts and classes do not cut it.  Life online is not life.  We need each other,  we need connection.  And I understand why they will continue to gather because of it.

That all said, a little while after that gathering, an fb friend posted something that pulled me up short.  It said, essentially, “I wonder if any of my Covid naysayer friends has ever read any accounts from Covid ‘survivors’ to get a handle on how this thing actually works?” (Thanks, Amelia Mae).  I had not, so I went and looked for some.

What I read blew my mind, broke my heart, and changed my perspective.  And freaked me out a little: a lot of people that attended the gathering I was at were from the Bay and LA, places where there is a lot of Covid.  I didn’t know that was going to be the case before I agreed and went: do you know that people are leaving the city in droves at this point because they don’t want to be there and now they can work remotely?  It has made the rental market here tighter and more expensive than it’s ever been, and they are bringing a lot of the city – including, probably, a fair number of asymptomatic Covid cases (but that’s speculation) – with them.  It’s a situation.  But that’s another matter

Here’s what I read in the Covid survivor stories that really got a hold of me in a different way: “recovered” from Covid can mean debilitating fatigue and brain fog, constant shortness of breath, racking cough, nausea, and/or diarrhea, extreme vertigo, and more, months after initial contraction of the virus.  The symptoms can disappear for spells of time and then suddenly re-appear and wipe someone out for weeks at a time.  Some stories spoke of having initially become ill in December and still exhibiting symptoms in July even though the person is considered to be “fully recovered”.  If you’ve ever been nauseous or had diarrhea, you know it’s awful in the short term, and diarrhea can strip your body of all nutrients and minerals quickly enough to be a serious medical issue in the short term: it essentially means you are not actually absorbing any nutrition from your food.  I can imagine (this is, of course, speculation) that over time that equates to a low-level starvation.

As someone who has lived with a chronic illness for the past 7 years, the reality of debilitating fatigue and brain fog are very familiar to me, as I have already spent years mitigating the presence of both, and not something I would wish on anyone or be willing to take on afresh myself.

I put all of this information together, for the first time, with the knowledge (which had been a distant piece of information for me at the time that I attended that gathering, not something I was holding in the forefront of my mind, hello, many-faceted privilege) that this virus is most dangerous and devastating for people of color, the elderly, and the health-compromised, and essentially least dangerous for people like me: a young, healthy, able-bodied white woman living alone in a beautiful natural setting full of fresh air, bright sun, and good water, with a fridge full of high quality food and good natural medicines of all kinds in the cupboards.

There was a bit of a train wreck in my consciousness at that point as the separation between “statistics” and “realities” suddenly dissolved, and I saw that to blow this virus and its importance off is, actually, a perspective of white privilege that is genuinely dangerous to the people around us.  While privileged (mostly) white people continue to gather at ever increasingly large events, the people who are most burdened by this illness (and who are also dealing with the systemic racism reality at a new level as we thankfully turn towards changing that for good) are not gathering.  Not even to bury their dead, who are increasing by the day.  That’s something to seriously consider if you’re white and throwing statistics around on your way to a party.

Yes, statistically speaking, Covid is less dangerous than driving.  Yes, it was planned at worst, and/or is being actively exploited by the power elite at best.  And it’s also genuinely dangerous for the most vulnerable and pressured among us, and statistics and nefarious plans aside, that matters in a way that deserves our attention and our care on a personal, communal level.  It deserves for those of us who are not at risk and can afford to focus on something other than losing our loved ones to it to pay attention in a different way and treat it with respect.  It deserves that we move beyond our obsession with individualism and freedom and apply our intelligence to figuring out how to care for the ones around us who are vulnerable so that they can live their lives according to their own truth and nature as well and easily as we want and demand to.  That’s maturity.  That’s loving the world we are a part of in a way that takes everyone into consideration.  That’s also dismantling exceptionalism and white supremacy.

Here’s why this differentiation between statistics and experience matters: statistics are mathematical models derived from available data.  Numbers, ratios, info.  Statistics aren’t the reality of the situation on the ground, in the body, in the community.  Statistics don’t address the detail that to have “recovered” could mean being debilitatingly ill indefinitely and developing various compound illnesses and conditions because of it (extreme scarring of the lungs is starting to show up in people who have “recovered”, and this could inhibit their breathing, i.e., the oxygenation of their bodies, for the rest of their lives.  And that’s just one thing discovered so far!). If we’re working with a 99% “recovery” rate, which is amazing statistically speaking, but actually looks like the above for a considerable percentage of the “recovered”, that carries a different meaning and asks for a different consideration than if “recovered” meant “all gone, all clear, all good.”  Especially if loads of the “recovered” are in some way systemically or personally compromised to begin with.  And the fact that the load of the burden of the virus’ impact falls especially hard on people of color asks for a far different consideration than it’s being given by the people for whom it is mostly a conceptual piece of information happening to “someone else out there, but not me.”

I don’t agree with the way the virus is being handled by the “authorities”.  I believe there could be so much more sophistication and finesse in our response to it from the government on down to the individual.  I don’t believe that the “lockdown” of society that left liquor stores open but shut down natural health practitioners and trails into the fucking wilderness, has anything to do with our collective well-being.  I just don’t.  I believe that it is being used to manipulate us and corral us into submission to totalitarianism, and that is truly terrifying.

But I know now, just from doing a little simple reading that anyone could do, that this virus is real, and it’s nasty.  Now I’m taking more precautions and being more careful.  There’s just so much we don’t know about Covid and what’s going to take care of everyone as well as we can.   We as individuals have to be humble to that and not barricade ourselves behind statistics that support us doing whatever we want to do in a moment when a deeper maturity is being asked of us.  We have to be humble to the reality that we just don’t know what’s going on and not behave inconsiderately or recklessly because to do that plays roulette with other people’s lives in a way that is unconscionable.  Yes, there’s a %99 “recovery” rate, but does that justify blithely tossing the dice about who gets saddled with the long term ramifications of this infection?  It doesn’t.  It just doesn’t.  It’s a non-starter as a conversation point because the effects of the virus are not evenly distributed, and we have to take care of all of us as we figure out how to move through this with grace and more sophistication than the pathetic lack of leadership we’ve been dealing with so far.  Yes, we are statistically more likely to die in a car accident than by Covid: thusly, we drive sober because to drive drunk greatly increases our chances of killing ourselves or someone else with our car.  It’s the same game, friends: we take what precautions we can so that we tend to each other as well as we can in the midst of all this not-knowing while we do the work to figure out what can actually work better and then ultimately best in the long run.

I am not advocating for fear and paranoia.  I am not vilifying the desire to gather with beloveds.  I am not saying that anyone who doesn’t wear a mask is a psychopath that is actively engaging in violence.  I don’t believe that masks make that much of a difference, but it’s a piece and it doesn’t actually bother me much.  I’m not suggesting we abandon our vigilance and skepticism about the path of totalitarianism that the government is steadily unrolling around us with Covid as one of its central pillars.

What I am saying is this: it’s a good and right thing to do to recognize that there is something going on that is worthy of respect, consideration, and discipline of action and behavior, and that we each have a part to play in taking care of the whole.  We’ve always had that part to play, and now we’re finally face-to-face with that reality, and I hope above and beyond hope that we actually get a little disciplined with our radical individualism and do it.  Discipline isn’t synonymous with deprivation, it just means engaging with skill and a broad scope of vision that takes into account more than just our own needs and desires.  It’s high time that we come out of the tower of self-satisfaction and set up camp in the territory of stewardship of the world.  It’s a good place to be.  It feels better, even when it hurts.  I mean that.

And what I’m also saying is this: let’s not turn on each other so quickly.  I know that everyone is scared and hurting and at their breaking point, but we are all here together, even after bonds are severed and wounds are delivered through nasty words, so let’s not attack each other so freely.  Let’s hold each other more kindly and “love our way through it” as my spirit ma La loves to say.

These are the times when it is of the utmost importance that we close the gap between our ideals and our behaviors.  This is no mean task.  This is the essential work of an integrated life.  I know the people who hosted The Party and many who facilitated at it: they are all loving and caring people who just want to be and share with their friends and made an error in judgement at a very critical moment.  Anyone and everyone can and will do this at any point throughout their lives, especially now.  That’s not fundamentally “bad”.  It’s human, and it’s going to happen through each of us at different times, so let’s see how we can be compassionate about mistakes and save the “trial by twitter” for when malicious and blatant disregard for life is actually evident.  If they, and I, and everyone else who has something to learn right now (that’s all of us) use this moment and every subsequent mistake coming as the learning opportunity that it is, get humble in an empowered way, take the teaching and show the fuck up for the learning, and do the good work of evolving our souls into the adults we are able and being called to be, we will thereby evolve our world into a gorgeous and livable place for all people and all beings.  Possibly in record time, Goddess willing (I think she’s betting on us).

We’re deep in the territory of initiation right now, and we can do this well if we stand up straight, listen deeply, and respond with full heart and soul when we hear something clearly.  I have faith in us.  I really do.

To anyone who may have been hurt by my actions or my words at any time in the course of this whole experience, I apologize.  I am doing my best and learning as I go and I am sorry it took me so long to see this forest for its trees.  I am still in the process of seeing, and will continue to stay open, humble, and present to the work of the times.

May it bear sweet fruit.

Maitreya ~ July 2020