Pandemic Love

Corona has finally hit the other side of the world with full force.   While I am worried about my family and friends on the other side of the Pacific, I am living in a little bubble here in Jeju Island.  In a remote part of a beautiful island, we have no run on the supermarkets and no shortage of masks.   The streets had never been crowded here, now even the occasionally touristy spots are eerily vacant.  It has been a good time for us to have the entire kid cafe or even the aerospace museum to ourselves and a few brave souls.

I know many people will be hurt by this crisis.   The stock market deep dive and political blame games are irrelevant.  There will be people, particularly those in socioeconomically disadvantaged positions, who will lose their livelihood or even lives.  In no uncertain terms, I believe nature is fighting back against the most destructive species on the planet. Unfortunately, it is unclear if nature will discriminate between the most destructive humans vs the more conscientious ones.  In the end, we are all equally responsible and must bear the brunt of it together.  The elderly and the sick will, unfortunately, bear most of it.  The world is not fair.   It never has been.

Nope, this isn’t a negative rant blog.  Just being realistic and truthful about the state of things as a foundation for what I really wanted to say.  If, (and maybe even if not),  you are fortunate enough to be in a place that people have not panicked to clear the supermarket shelves and the government has provided competent effort to contain, test and prep for those who are sick,  this is also a rare time we get for pandemic love.     Instead of the isolations we usually practice running around as if we are living to work instead of working to live, we are forced to stay home with our loved ones and really be with each other.  It probably causes a lot of proximity shock after we might have been estranged(even if we see each other every day) from our families for a long time, it is also a time to reconnect.

I have felt closer to my own family during this time.  It is exhausting, of course, to not have enough personal space, yet at the same time, I feel satiated on love.  It is not always perfect, the inevitable conflicts and arguments still exist on a daily basis.  However, I am also aware more and more about how frequently that is coming from our own defense system. I am still reading Jett and Marlena’s book on Undefended love.  Each time I read, on each page, I manage to find some wisdom that informs my life and reduce unnecessary anxiety.   As their ideas sink in more and more each day, I feel daily life is smoother.  like the yogurt I use to soak the raw oats, the longer it soaks the better the oats taste.

I have also had more time to see people around us, get to know his colleagues and our neighbors.  We are really born to love and connect.  Work was always supposed to be secondary; it took a powerful virus to force us into it.  I hope somehow some of us will come out of this realizing how wonderful it can be to be together and be seen truly more often.

Pandemic love does take some personal time away.  I haven’t written as much, or exercised as much, or meditated as consistently.  The laughter with my toddler and her friends, the outings with family, supply different kinds of emotional nourishment.   I am able to last longer on a smaller amount of self-care.  Of course, exercise and meditation are like vitamin-Cs, the more the merrier, so I am always striving to get back to them when the schedule starts to resemble normal again.  Writing, on the other hand, is taking a deliberately slower pace both because there is a lack of narrative drive in my old romance stories.  I think my emotional self is finding the need to reunite with a strong male character rather cliched or less relevant in my mid-life.  The appeal of sweet romance always will be there, it just seems less urgent at this moment in life.  I will finish this love story and move onto something more growth-oriented soon. I also accepted that I am not a masterful writer, yet. It will take a life long journey to improve.  That itself as the destination rather the goal of publishing asap makes writing serve my soul rather my ego.  This period of group love serves as a good transition for this process I am going through.

Hubbie and I are still in that positive trajectory of getting along better. There is no promise of eternal love or imminent separation.  That is probably where we will be for a while to come.  I realize that as the history of my blogs in the past year demonstrated, I often expected too much of a good spell and then go into despair quickly after a conflict.  Now as I gain more ability to sit with my own anxiety about life, whether specific or in general, I find less need to blame him.   The more I feel better about myself and life in general, the more astonished how immature I have been.  haha, it is amazing to know there is still so much to learn.  Life would be boring otherwise.  I find less need to react to myself or him or the world in general.  I am ever so slow in learning emotionally and physically the fundamental truth that blade grass by the road has known for a long time, storms will come and go and life will be okay.

I am still a terrible meditator with silence hard to come by.  In my occasionally good moments, I have interesting revelations.   One of them is that we can never fully see anything because we can never fully see the 360 degrees of each moment/thing/person from whichever angle we might be looking from; that frequently prevents us from true objectivity or happiness.  We project rosier light onto those further away and can’t appreciate those closest to us every day.  Another is that human life is at once so important in each and every moment, and not so significant as each of us is but a mere speck in the universe of matters.  I found myself starting to think like Confucius in Analect. His contradictions in every other sentence don’t seem so ridiculous now.   Life is beautiful and meaningless at the same time, just as pain and joy are both inevitable conditions of life.  Being comfortable with these inherent contradictions might help me be flexible in each moment.  I can easily zoom in to give a single joyful moment my full attention or zoom out to see the bigger context surrounding painful events.  Whatever situation that is entirely different from what I expect or upsets me on the surface, without hurting me physically,  might still have its validity.  I can refrain from anger and be more adaptative in the problem-solving process.

I wonder if it is this attitude that has led me to see it as an opportunity as a pandemic love in this rather chaotic time.  I know it is doesn’t seem realistic for anyone who feels panic, struggling to stay alive or care for the young and old.   However,  I believe that even in those circumstances, and maybe even particularly in those circumstances, all we have is our belief that life is all about love.  Without the distraction of business and modern city life, we have the opportunity to be closer to our own essence than we will ever have during “normal” times.

I believe all life’s painful moments bring with it a powerful platform for transformation both as individuals and as a society, as my own mid-life struggles with relationships and my mom’s premature death taught me.   Pandemic sickness might easily be a path for pandemic love.  There is nothing more powerful than suffering that awakens the love for ourselves and those around us.  Life might be inherently random and meaningless, yet we have full control over how we react to whatever it brings.  I am convinced there is no better way to react than with courage and love.   The same positivity that helped Victor Frankl survived harrowing years during the Holocaust can help each one of us, in peace, war or pandemic.

Sometimes it feels like I am becoming one of those people I used to become annoyed at for being too positive.  Now I realize I was just jealous of their joy. I guess better annoying people with your upbeat spirit than to be the one unsettled by it.

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