When we experience trauma in our lives, we often end up feeling like a victim. We feel betrayed by our god, or the universe, or other people. We feel weak. We feel powerless. We raise our arms to the heavens and ask, “Why? What did I do to deserve this?”
Well, what if we changed our perspective? I don’t believe the universe punishes anyone, I don’t put my faith in a vengeful god, and I don’t think that people are out to get us. What I do believe is that the universe teaches us lessons. So, what if we opened our arms and asked, “What can I learn from this?”
Quarantine has been hard on all of us — I’ve wished this period of self-isolation to be over more times than I can count — but what if we tried to appreciate the time that we’ve been given. Maybe this is a chance for us to refocus on what really matters in life. Think about it, what are you truly craving right now? It’s not more money, it’s not more stuff, it’s not fame or success, it’s human connection.
I miss having a drink at my local bar, surrounded by other happy, smiling people. I miss hugging my friends. I miss awkward first dates. I miss being cramped in economy on an airplane. I miss the intoxicating warmth of dancing with everyone at my pole studio. I miss sliding my fingers across a row of book spines at BMV, wondering who owned this book last and why they gave it up. I miss sitting at a cozy cafe and writing. I miss smiling at the barista, and quietly whispering, “Thank you,” as they hand me my matcha latte. I miss having more than just my roommate to say hello to in the morning.
And not only have we lost our connection to others, we’ve also lost our connection to ourselves. How many of us have our identity tied to our jobs? Or our self-worth tied to our productivity? The thing about earth-shattering situations is that they tend to make us question who we really are and who we want to be. Sometimes our thoughts can spiral out of control and overwhelm us. But when we slow down and listen, maybe talk to a therapist, things start to come back into focus.
It can be hard to aim for positivity during this time, so let’s aim for curiosity instead. What did you used to love that you’ve forgotten about? How can you develop an existing skill from a different angle? What is something you’ve always wanted to do? What does your body need today? What does your mind need today? When do you feel the most authentically you?
This quarantine has enabled me to connect with parts of myself I haven’t seen in years, both good and bad. I’ve reencountered the darkest parts of my anxiety as well as the brightest parts of my creativity. I’ve cultivated a daily yoga practice alongside daily crying sessions. I’ve learned that I lose who I am when I’m not writing or dancing. I went back to therapy (online, obviously). I fell in love with the Shadowhunters universe, which reminded me that I’m still the same Potterhead that believes magic is real.
I don’t mean the type of magic that lets us move objects with our minds or spew fire from our fingertips (although that would be hella cool). I mean the type of magic we often don’t notice, or take for granted. Like the magic of getting lost in what we are doing. The magic of things working out just so. The magic of genuinely connecting with another human being. The magic of perfect stillness and oneness with the universe. The magic of everything happening for a reason.
But what about the sick? What about the people dying alone in hospitals? How does death have a reason? That’s the thing, we don’t know. Maybe this person would have suffered something even more terrible later in life. Maybe they would have turned out to be a horrible person. Maybe a couple months later, they would have crashed into a school bus full of children.
Either way, it’s out of our control. And trying to find explanations for the world’s most unanswerable questions will only drive you mad (trust me — I’ve been there). So what can we do? We can mourn the people and moments we’ve lost. We can try to be grateful for what we have. We can accept that the universe works in strange and mysterious ways.
When all this is over, we’ll breathe a huge collective sigh of relief. We’ll run outside. We’ll hug our neighbours. We’ll rebuild. We’ll try not to fall back into our old patterns. We’ll try to be a little kinder, a little gentler, and a little more mindful. But for now, we wrap ourselves in hope, and we embrace the present moment.