The emotional roller coaster of the global Pandemic reminds me of something. Two decades ago, when I was married and not yet a mom, I went to Canada’s Wonderland with my then-husband, a man who LOVES roller coasters. He boarded one of the big, old wooden ones — The Wildebeast maybe? — while I stood on the sidelines waiting. I don’t love big rides. I can handle The Fly, which is right outside the kids’ zone, small and dinky, but mostly I detest that wavy feeling in my stomach. My actual life — divorce, a child with a rare disease, working in the publishing industry — offers enough bottom-dropping-out moments, thank you very much!
On this particular day, our friends got off the ride and rushed over to let me know that Husband was stuck on the ride. Trapped. His safety harness would not rise up to release him. He was going around another time. As an imaginative writer-brain, my mind suggested that maybe this was my new life. I would have to learn to love the ride so that I could spend time with my husband. Would I be allowed to bring him his favourite meals or would he have a life of eating Pogos and Funnel Cake? How would conjugal visits work?
Our brains are so funny sometimes. They immediately think that any new or impending situation is permanent when the only truth is that nothing is permanent. Zero-point-zero physical things or situations in life are permanent.
Ponder that idea for a moment. How does that thought make you feel? Scared? Comforted? (There are no wrong answers to that question.)
Our brains CRAVE stability, and yet it’s the one thing life cannot offer us. So we’re all stuck on this ride called LIFE -— or the current version: GLOBAL PANDEMIC LIFE -— the indoor ride! At times we squeal with joy, then alternate to feeling despair and fear. My personal extremes are everything from, “Squee! Look at this video of corgi butts!” or “I’m so lucky that I get to be around my awesome kids all the time right now!” to “OMG I am going to lose my job and won’t be able to pay my bills!” or “Will my parents get this stupid virus and die alone?” We’re all kinda stuck on The Wildebeast now!
To be clear — the pandemic is not ideal. Many people around the world are suffering and scared due to their current reality: illness, job loss, instability of food supply, money and other resources. This is the circumstance we are in and it’s messing with every tool I’ve developed to prevent my imaginative writer brain from going to the dark place. Forget Canada’s Wonderland! Many of us are living in Global Anxietyland!
Imagination isn’t Just for Fun
But our imaginations aren’t the enemy here. In fact, I believe the only way out of the current situation is through dreaming. Think about it — it’s not what currently exists that will save us from the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s something we’ve not yet invented, something that has yet to reveal itself to us. We need people to dream and imagine a way out. What if “what-ifs” weren’t anxiety-inducing, but bold and a little out of reach. We need to work through our fear and our trauma, a little bit at a time, and believe in impossible things. What great things will life will bring on the other side of this? Who we are becoming while living through this time? Who do we want to be on the other side of this?
Your dreams are not only valid, but they are also necessary to pull humanity through! To me, choosing these thoughts and holding onto them with daily practice… well, it inspires me. I think of the possibilities in an optimistic way, that motivates me to keep going and keep believing in a better outcome, rather than succumbing to the scaries.
Still struggling? That’s OK and totally human! Fortunately, if you live in Canada, are in fairly good health and have wifi, you likely have access to supports. Many healthcare and wellbeing practitioners, like therapists and doctors, are now offering virtual appointments. Our business is predominantly online since its inception, with Steph adopting Zoom before your Grandma knew what it was. Steph helps you to be future-focused, while I help you to acknowledge your stories and together we rewrite them to help us be our best selves.
It did End
Oh and yeah, Husband eventually got off the ride. He thought it was fun and funny because that’s who he is. He’s being pretty creative right now and I wrote a little something to celebrate our team efforts if you’d like to read more. https://www.todaysparent.com/blogs/opinion/co-parenting-in-the-the-pandemic/
Yours in dreaming,
(Could there be a better version of funnel cake?!)
*Emotions are heightened on this so I’m going to quickly dive into a personal example because everyone has had such different experiences, strengths, struggles, obstacles, and advantages.
Yes Nadine, we do sometimes crave stability, but we especially crave it when it feels out of reach. When we have it we often get restless. In the moment we often crave newness, good stories that cause deep feelings and… I hate to say it, but humans are drawn to dramatic situations and the dopamine hits. So with everything going on it’s easy to get sucked into the enormity of the situation either as a spectator or as a participant. This happens to me sometimes multiple times a day and I’ve ridden a few emotional roller coasters that didn’t help anyone least of all myself.
To be clear, I’m not saying we should repress our feelings or that everything is fine and not “roller coaster worthy”, BUT I’m going to call myself out and say that on occasion it’s been an almost decadent stroll through the “what-if’s”, comparisons of how people are coping, and a slight entitlement to not do the things I know would be in my best interest because…hello what a great excuse: “Sorry, I was kind of busy with this whole global pandemic stuff.”
I’m adapting and learning. And working on awareness of when I am being indulgent and entitled with my thoughts and feelings. As opposed to having them be aligned with how I want to show up for this pandemic. So that’s what I’m training for in my head. And I agree with you that imagination is critical, but I come at it a touch differently.
Warning: Slight Idealism
I didn’t have “Pandemic lockdown March – ____” in my 2020 plans and now I need to figure out how it fits into my long term vision. How does this align with how I want to live, my short term goals, and my day to day habits. The thing I know is that I want to make the world better and help others. Luckily, my business is literally centered on helping people manage their minds so that they can find out and experience what they are truly capable of. So I’m starting with myself right now and figure out how I can best execute this.
And that’s how I am using my imagination to help ground me when I feel the tug towards the roller coaster. I’m practicing choosing what I think about and emotionally engage with. Imagining what is possible for myself and how I could be better at all of this. I am using my imagination to be creative in how I can stay focused. Taking time to imagine different ways of working with people. I am thinking of new ways in which I can help my clients thrive as they figure out this new landscape. And what I imagine helps me see the value in acknowledging and managing my emotions, as opposed to letting them control me.
My favourite question is “This happened, now what?” because it reminds me that I always have a choice in how I respond.