New Year’s Day, 2020, feels like decades ago. Like most of us, I was excited for what lay ahead. I’d just completed a four-day yoga retreat where I’d released tons of old baggage. 2020 was going to be my year!
But then, on the drive home, just a couple of miles down the road from the retreat center, a squirrel bolted into the road. As my car closed in, I looked right into its eyes and saw pure fear.
The squirrel ran faster. If I’d stayed the course, I might have missed it. Instead, panicked, I swerved. I hit it.
I slammed on the brakes. My mind was swirling. I knew there was no way the squirrel could have survived, and my inner dialogue kicked into gear. I can’t believe it. How could I have taken a life just hours into the first day of the new year?
My doomsday mind had its own version: This can’t be good. What does this mean for the year ahead?
My mind can be a cryptic cave of a horror movie if I let it.
As I backed up the mostly empty country road toward the squirrel, my heart was racing. I couldn’t stop the tears. I needed to apologize. I had to make sure it was dead. I didn’t want it to suffer.
It wasn’t moving. There was blood in the corner of its mouth. I knew it was gone. I said a blessing as I relocated the body to the side of the road with a paper towel.
As I drove on, I tried to convince myself that it didn’t mean anything. This is really unfortunate, but you can’t change it. Things like this happen, right?
I knew I needed to let it go. I wanted to go back to the beautiful energy from the retreat, but I couldn’t ignore the pit in my stomach.
What did this mean?
I’m someone who believes the universe is always talking to me, sending me signs. This one was hard to ignore. The new year starts with death? What the hell?
My energy shifted uncomfortably, the high from the retreat immediately replaced with dread. What was coming? What was this showing me?
This wasn’t the way things typically go for me. Magical things happen when I travel. It’s not that I don’t come across hardship, uncertainty, inequities, or challenges. I do, but this New Year’s Day felt different. Gone was the connected, aligned, synchronistic energy of my life. Instead, the day felt heavy. I had a deep, sinking feeling, with no clarity around it or explanation of why. It made no sense after the freedom of that immersive, four-day retreat.
There was nothing I could do but accept it.
Looking back on it now, as I sit in isolation at home, I see that the experience was a metaphor for what was coming. A foreshadowing of what would go down only ten weeks later: unexpected death, discomfort and confusion. With nothing to do but accept it.
I’ve had major turning points in my life, experiences that pushed me beyond my edge. When I was in them, it was hard to see how the pain and sadness were reordering my existence, making me stronger, helping me learn my life lessons.
It isn’t until I look back from a wiser, more aware perspective that can I see how those experiences altered me and changed me for the better. How they forced me through a portal I never thought I could survive.
The deeper meaning
This experience of the virus is heartbreaking – and yet, it’s also filled with so many expressions of heroics, kindness, generosity, care, and love. As we go through this together, I feel more connected to myself and to humanity than ever before.
While we’re each having our own unique experiences, together, the collective energy is evolving. We’re all being led back to ourselves. Whether you’re on your own, like me, or with a partner, kids, or friends, know that this experience isn’t about any other relationship more so than the one with yourself. It’s also about your personal tolerance and acceptance of change.
How willing are you to let go, accept, and allow? In what ways are you still trying to control this #saferathome experience?
Resist change, and discomfort ensues. It rises from inside your core and knocks on a door you’ve long held closed. But with or without your permission, the door has opened. Like the squirrel I didn’t want to kill, it’s happening anyway.
From a spiritual perspective, squirrels are busy little creatures. They spend loads of time gathering nuts and acorns for the winter, stashing them in safe places to prepare for what’s to come. Psychologists tell us we can mitigate our fear by preparing for what’s coming, even when we’re not sure what that is.
For a long time I wanted to believe there was no way to prepare for the unknown. It’s not seasonal, like winter. You don’t know it’s coming until you’re rolling through the wave and the undertow sucks you down. How can we prepare for that?
After getting exquisitely quiet with myself, I’ve come to realize we’re always in some form of the unknown. A perpetual state of allowance where we give ourselves permission to be who and where we are through our circumstances. Ideally, we accept this without trying to adjust the dial to a better station.
What if this time has been providing clarity about what hasn’t been working? Life is stripped down to the basics. What’s necessary right now? We’re in a grand experience of living in the present moment.
No matter how many questions we ask, we’re led back to ourselves and the requirement of complete acceptance about how it is today.
Why is this happening? When will this be over? When can I hug friends? When will things get back to normal? Like the jolting shock of killing the squirrel, we’ve been forced into the present for a “wake the *f* up” moment. It’s altered everything and we can’t go back to where we were. No matter how much we believe we want it.
And that’s a good thing. So much of the past felt out of balance. Family, partner, and personal time often took a backseat to commuting, errands, carpool, mom taxi, work life, and overtime. It was all exhausting.
We couldn’t keep going the way we were. Pushing through, disconnected from source, the planet, ourselves, each other. In this forced pause is the chance to meet ourselves and possibly even reset.
Now that you’ve found it, what will you do to truly embody the understanding and learning from this time, so you don’t go back to business as usual?
There will always be heartbreak and unexpected challenges, even death. How can we continue to meet each day with the presence and attention we’ve got going now?
You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For
You have all the power within you that’s needed for what’s ahead.
There may be fear, and that’s so understandable. Try not to push it away, but acknowledge it with love and compassion. Try not to feed it or nurture it to grow.
Find some time everyday to sit quietly, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Connect to your heart.
Go below the fear. Tune in. Ask, What does my body need right now? Listen for the answer with your heart.
Is it sleep? Maybe it’s gentleness.
Is it compassion? It could be courage.
It might be tears.
It could be different in each moment.
My clients needed rest when they first hit pause. I have a hunch it may have been the same for you, hell, you may need even more rest now – after the past weeks in isolation. It’s ok to rest. It’s necessary. The body needs you to listen to her now. With caring and love, meet your needs like only you can.
When you look back at this time from a wiser, more aware place, will you see how these experiences altered and changed you for the better? Will you recognize the portal as a place that created space for you to connect to your truth?
When all this passes, it would be profoundly healing if we don’t need a virus – or a squirrel – to remind us again what truly matters and how little we need to flourish.