April 29, 2020
Ok, so I have had the most vivid dreams over the last few nights. I’m pretty sure It’s all part of the way in which we all process our anxiety and experiences with the world under a pandemic. We are all trying to figure out how to navigate the strangeness of our new lives. ABC’s Good Morning America had a segment this morning about stress dreams. So I know it’s just not me.
It's no wonder that we are all struggling to make sense of the world. I mean, if I’m being honest, I feel like I’ve fallen through the Looking Glass and I’m holding hands with Alice while skipping like a fool through the Red Queen’s rose garden. What even is real life anymore? Are we all in a collective fever dream? Have we all gotten lost down the rabbit hole? It is indeed getting curiouser and curiouser!
I think we are all experiencing a lawless, wild frontier where the rules don’t apply and everyone just does whatever it takes to survive. This was evident to me this morning as I sat in front of the computer reading emails from the night before while eating breakfast. What’s on the menu you ask? I’m glad you did! Today’s gourmet breakfast included toast and coffee. Ok, so the toast was really just two pieces of bread. With ham and cheese. Ok, I had a sandwich for breakfast. Ok, ok, yes, it had Doritos on it too. Like I said, there are no rules here!
Up is down, left is right, day feels like night! What even is real life anymore? I’ve noticed that my source of disorientation has less to do with the actual loss we’ve experienced and more to do with the fact I have no idea what I’m doing or where the rules apply or how a sandwich stuffed with chips makes a nutritious and balanced breakfast…I just don’t know how to navigate this brave new world.
For many of us, the demand to work and live and relate to the world around us came fast and without a handbook. At least Alice had the Cheshire Cat to help find her way. But for the rest of us we are standing at the edge of a vast wilderness where the roads end and the wild wood begins. Where, exactly, do we go from here? What lies just beyond the forest’s edge?
Like Alice many of us stand at a fork in the road with signs pointing this way and that way and each of us having no idea which way to go. Many of us don’t even remember why we entered the forest or what we were following into the wood. Alice had the Cheshire Cat to point her toward the Mad Hatter’s tea party which ultimately leads her home. Some of us are still chasing the white rabbit, distracted here and there by whatever we find lying about, getting us in messes that threaten to undo us.
Wherever you are in this Looking Glass world, I hope you know, as the Cheshire Cat agrees, “we’re all quite mad here!!!” So, if you feel like you live in a lawless land and the rules no longer apply, you are among friends!
This is all part of our new vocation of grief. We are disoriented and confused because all of the things that tethered us to reality have gone topsy-turvy. We’ve found ourselves falling into a deep and dark well of unknowing, wondering what will happen next. So, where do we go from here? We cannot go back to yesterday, as Alice says, as we were different people then.
Alice asks herself a question that many of us are asking this morning. “Who in the world am I?” she asks. The answer: “Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” The work ahead of us is indeed a great puzzle. Some puzzles need to be solved by logic. Others are solved by persistently trying piece by piece to fit into the larger picture. Some puzzles are solved by word association and recall of memory. Whichever puzzle you find yourself working through today, know that it might take you deep into the wood, get you lost and confused, before putting you back together safe and sound on the other side.
So, how can we get to the other side when there isn’t even a path or clearing to be seen here at the wood’s edge? We create the road by walking!!! The roads we’ve walked before, every path that lies behind us was created by our walking. It was unnoticeable and incremental. But now the path ahead feels unclear and rough. Tread ahead! Take a step forward. Walk and the path will become!
Which way shall we go? As the Cheshire Cat states, “that depends a good deal on where you want to go”. Where do you want to go? What new reality do you want to form and nurture? What is it you want to do or become on this side of the Looking Glass?
I leave you with an excerpt from a poem by Antonia Machado: Campos de Castilla,
“Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more; wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking. By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again.”
You and I are creating new paths by walking into an unknown wilderness. We will discover the most curious of sights and encounter challenge after challenge. That’s okay, my dear heart, it is the madness of creating a new path. “And we’re all mad here.”
Love and Light!