When a song gets in my head and I just can’t seem to stop hearing it, I wonder why. Today that song is Natalie Merchant’s “Topsyturvey-World” From the album Leave Your Sleep. This song speaks to my inner child, the child who was born with blood that would not clot. My world could be tipped upside down by a tumble onto the sidewalk. People didn’t understand what I could do safely and what I could not. Many tried to confine me, others pitied me, some avoided me, a few were frightened by me.
Isolated at home with an injury until it healed, I did the things I could do, things I enjoyed, things I was skilled at. I practiced problem solving while other children my age practiced raising a hand before speaking. I wasn’t afraid.
Of course I preferred being with other children, but when I could not, I learned to reach out to friends on the telephone, laughing, joking, even playing magic tricks. These moments of joy sustained me until I could rejoin the outer world. I wrote letters to aunts and uncles, pen pals and one boy who I didn’t know. He was a friend of a friend who had broken his back falling from a horse. He was in a hospital bed and might never walk again. He didn’t feel sorry for me and I didn’t feel sorry for him.
In many ways I feel prepared for the Covid-19 virus that is bearing down on my part of the world. I know more than many of my friends about ways to cope when I am afraid, or lonely, or uncertain.
The lessons I have learned in my lifetime have given me an advantage in this time of pandemic. I believe for most of us uncertainty is the norm. It means we are human and the one thing we can count on is change.
I have never met anyone who has not experienced a disaster or a loss that turned them upside down. That doesn’t stop us from experiencing joy. Joy, bursts up in unexpected moments. You don’t need to cling to it, just notice it.
Joy can unstick you from anxiety and propel you into action. Joy is your super power. It can lead you to do the next right thing, the most compassionate thing, and for now that is stay home.
“Inside the word “emergency” is “emerge”; from an emergency new things come forth. The old certainties are crumbling fast, but danger and possibility are sisters.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark