This post had an incredibly hard time birthing itself into the world. I made repeated attempts to translate into binary form a host of feelings and musings and revelations that have come from this pandemic period, but nothing quite captured the gist. This post still doesn’t capture it, but I tried.

I remember the last time I tried to encapsulate this range of emotions – when I’d just been diagnosed with stage IV cancer. There are so many synchronicities between the pandemic and cancer and I say that without a hint of irony. There was the beginning of the pandemic – that period in March and April – when we were just starting to emerge into our new reality…the feeling of waking up every morning and saying “oh shit, this is real”. The isolation from family and friends. The confusion and depression. And the elephant in the room, the ever looming possibility that we – or our loved ones – could die from this disease. The possibility that if you scratched your nose the wrong way, comingled with the wrong people, or rode the elevator after someone who might have breathed out tainted droplets, you could have made an irreversible mistake.

But here’s the good news – and this comes from someone who knows a little about challenges where death is a conceivable outcome – there is always a silver lining. 

I say this with a well-read nod to the slew of recent articles, such as this one and this one and this one, that have emerged on the topic of “toxic positivity”. It’s okay to not be okay they all report. Own your baggage. And I agree. It’s important to feel our feelings, not to buckle under the pressure of showing a shiny happy face to the outside world. But I also feel that it’s my duty to report that when life gets torn down to the studs, the rebuilding can often produce a better, stronger, more reliable house. We may be too lost in the weeds of our current situation to fully appreciate our opportunities for personal (and cultural) growth, but they are there. 

I wish I could have taken a dose of my own medicine in the spring of 2020. Early quarantine nearly broke me. In an ideal world (a world very much unlike the current state, hi, yes, clearly) I would have been able to extract myself from my depression with a gentle reminder that “this too shall pass” or “may I live like the lotus, at ease in muddy water” or even “raise your damn vibration girl, you’re better than this”. But that’s the thing about depression – often you don’t know that you’re depressed until you’re waist deep in the sludge without your gaiters on, grasping for mercy while you sink.

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