Up until February 2020, before the reality of a global pandemic had reached our shores, we were already struggling to connect with each other. I think while a lot of us crave intimacy, we are constantly distracted thanks to our fast paced lifestyle which takes over the time and space to breathe and look at each other properly. Over the past several months our sense of security has been shaken by this pandemic, as our relationship with the air we breathe, and our physical relationship with others has become risky. We are facing our own, and others’ fragility, and it’s scary. This tension in the air makes me wonder what kind of gifts we can hope for from this year’s festive season.
The worldwide pandemic has inspired a new perspective on how we spend our time, and encouraged many of us to reach out, call, and chat more with the people who we care for. Although, just as there have been gains, there have been losses. Those of our community who have passed away will be missed dearly. I hope that we may honour them by living, rather than surviving.
This virus is a symptom of a world that we’ve drastically changed and harmed with unsustainable systems. Why hasn’t plastic production been banned? Why haven’t we seriously invested in renewable energy? Human abuse of nature has plagued our Earth’s biodiversity and is bringing about massive climate changes. I don’t mean you, me, or any one person, needs nor deserves to feel the guilt and shame of the global consequences that our species has brought about. That guilt and shame takes us to a dark place of isolation, helplessness, and inaction, when action is needed the most. So what can we do?
Ironically, we are being active! Our day is filled to the brim with stuff to do. What are we supposed to fit in to do something about this emergency situation? What are we supposed to do about all these things (the pandemic, climate change etc.) that are so much larger than us?
In becoming aware of what is within our control and what is outside of it, we can acknowledge our reality as it is – this presents an opportunity to feel both humbled by what is greater than us, and empowered by what is within our control. Our feelings of anxiety about this pandemic can fuel preventative behavior but at a certain point we must accept that even if we try our best, we might still test positively for Covid-19, and then we would have to adjust to that reality if it comes. The same goes for environmental concerns – take the action you need to make to support yourself at the face of these real concerns. Be the change you want to see without being afraid to reach out to people to express these concerns with compassion. We cannot get through this alone, so reach out to others.
The good news is that we can adapt to living in a state of emergency. In this living emergency we can find comfort in what we can do, both by making changes in our own behaviours in response to our concerns (supporting ourselves), as well as by reaching out to others (giving and receiving support from others). So this strange 2020’s festive season is still an opportunity for us to invest our energy in what we want to cultivate in our lives, even when there’s a universe out there that is out of our control.
Amber Tabone practices Gestalt Psychotherapy with individuals and couples at Willingness. While currently reading for a Master’s in Psychotherapy, she has developed an interest in working with relationships, gender, and sexuality thanks to her experience with families and domestic violence issues.