I have avoided writing about my personal situation regarding the shelter-in-place ordinance caused by the COVID-19 virus up until now. My hesitation was based on the idea that, well, everyone else is already doing so. What can I contribute that might be construed by a reader as original? Today the answer came to me.
A year and a half ago I caught my wife of 31 years cheating on me. Red handed. I was devastated. The pertinent points for this essay are: we cautiously discussed mending the marriage; we saw a couples counselor once (he sucked); and I had made frequent attempts to cajole my wife into talking about the issues. She always volleyed back to me the same mantra- “I’m not ready”. After two months of anguished, silent isolation in my own home (she had left, staying with various friends), I made some decisions.
I learned to survive through meditation. I began my Buddhist studies in earnest. And I decided to move away. Two thousand miles away.
Now I am isolated again in a part of the country I had always hoped to see before I kick. Alone. Still meditating. Still studying. Still healing.
Now, playing the final holes of the back nine of my life, I keep up with the news. I watch as neighbors diligently adhere to social distancing in the hope that we as a global community can slow and eventually stop this virus from spreading. I watch as others ignore the pleas of the CDC and local government in that regard. I watch as families, health workers, grocery store employees and small business owners find new ways to be resilient. It is all humbling to me.
I no longer have my home companion, my girlfriend from college to confide in. To this day she does not speak to me, reach out to me in any way. I reciprocate her silence. My new home and my new community are the loose gravel I hike, always on the lookout for new, more secure footholds. In the meantime I often meditate in silence with sincere admiration for the human global population. I have learned to have a compassionate heart for myself. This ultimately leads to outgoing compassion for all who struggle here on this beautiful gift we call earth. This includes you.
Please remember to breathe first. Use the two part breath to move you into the next. Compassion comes naturally on the heels of calm reflection. Be kind and be safe my kindred travellers. W.