(Whoops! Wrote this and forgot to post!)
It has been 21 months since Covid-19 arrived and turned the world upside down. Suddenly, it was as if the whole planet was encased in a snow globe on intermittent, vigorous shake mode. Since then, we have globally, nationally, and individually needed to adapt, re-adapt, adapt, and re-adapt again. With the fourth wave now cresting and beginning to fall–or shake, shake, shake us up again–we are left to find our way in new currents of uncertainty. While we are more seasoned with coping with the pandemic at this juncture, we are also so much more tired. Our surge capacity, the mental and physical adaptive capacities that activate in short-term crisis or extremely stressful circumstances are depleted.
When I read in the New York Times on Sunday, 12/19/21, that the Omicron virus is being detected across the United States, and later learned it has arrived in Vermont, I felt my heart sink and my spirits slump. Several months ago, I had thankfully accepted the reality that there was never going to be ‘a return to the way of life before the pandemic.’ Then again, as an individual or as a therapist, I never would have expected or framed it this way. We never go back. There is always, only today and the anticipated, hoped for future. I found that releasing the mainstream media message of “returning to normal” was a much needed relief. There was agency in recognizing that a more realistic goal was hoping that the pandemic would eventually shift to an endemic status, like the annual flu.
As I’ve watched our state and federal politicians and healthcare leaders struggle with the lethal politicalization of a public health crisis, I have felt a growing sadness and disappointment. Pandemics require clear, direct framing and public messaging that explicitly asks citizens to get appropriate medical care, engage in all infection-reducing, mitigation measures, and to support and care about each other in this time of great uncertainty and vulnerability. As citizens, we have so much more capacity to act and care for and about each other than what has been demonstrated. We also have so much more in common than it appears on the surface of polarized viewpoints, as most people are vested in their own and their loved ones’ health and safety. Ultimately, the virus seeks hosts; it doesn’t care about personal preferences or political affiliations. The latter are simply noise and blindness when it comes to a life-threatening illness. The divisiveness keeps us in emotional distress and divided versus connected at a great cost.
As solstice, the longest day of darkness and the threshold of winter arrives in the northern hemisphere, we are on the cusp of the returning light. May we be kind to ourselves and with each other, recognizing that our strength and resilience are nurtured through connection, caring for each other, and being able to see what is arising and meet it as it is. Tomorrow the light will linger a little longer. Tomorrow we begin again.