What's the hidden meaning? The power of meaning when you have no control
I am preparing for loss. Are you? You may have already experienced loss as the tragedy of the Corona Virus 19 rages around the world taking innocent bystanders in its grip. My heart hurts for the nurses, doctors and first responders (and all of the health professionals) who are in the trenches trying to save even those who are unsaveable. I worry about the people young and old who feel lost and abandoned, and those who feel suffocated in the confines of their home. My mind spins in circles “What can I do?” My healer self asks, “How can I help?” What is the hidden meaning or meanings? What can I do now? What are my choices? What are the opportunities we can find in this crisis.
My mind struggles for a solution, knowing I wont find one. As a zoologist, I know this virus has a purpose in the bigger arch of gaia, no matter how harsh and unsentimental it is. Its meant to do and be what it is. Mother nature is not only amazingly beautiful and at times peaceful, but she is also dramatic, unyielding and swift. She focuses on the whole gaia, the big picture of the timeless reality we find ourselves in.
We are being shaped by an unknown future of consequences, consider this just the beginning. I don't want to add more fear to an already fearful and anxious time. But I do want to share the opportunity to find the little things you can do now for yourself and your loved ones.
If we listen with open curiosity, we can find numerous opportunities for self expansion and self realization. How do you cope with the unknown? What are your fears, your desires, your longings, and your values? Is what you believed in yesterday still relevant today with the possibility of death walking down a nearby street? What must you prepare for now to survive tomorrow? What paradigms are dying before your eyes, going up in flames like our coastal California forests did last summer? Who do you want to be, when life on earth becomes increasingly intense and unpredictable?
It’s not a question as to which life killing phenomenon at hand is bigger or more dangerous than the other: global warming or a viral pandemic. They are intrinsically related. As humans we are feeling the viral pandemic to the core of our survival and at a global level, at least those of us who are spiritually awake. As humans, unless we have a high level of moral compass for other life on earth, we may not notice or care about global warming as has been evident since the 1980’s (even earlier) when scientists tried to warn us that it was accelerating at an unstainable level for life on earth. Until recently it has been an optional or even discarded dilemma. The virus is most likely a symptom (or outcome of) of global warming, we don't need science to prove this (although one could probably find it in textbooks after hours of study—that is the relationship between changes in weather patterns and environmental changes that influence a specie’s survive-ability).
For now let's hold them together as related in the great scheme of things and both are trying to wake us up. They both want our attention. Our environment, weather, viruses, bacteria and more are getting increasingly life threatening. If we are aware and thinking about our future on earth, we’ll stop and listen. Mother earth has sent us to our room, given us a time out to thinking about what we need to change to be able to survive on this planet.
Many layers of meaning roll through my mind like flash cards, one after the other. There are so many lessons to learn, so many different directions to take, yet none of them ease the worry or the fear of loss. After wasting precious brain cells in the rat maze of my mind, I go outside to take in some fresh air. My body relaxes as I sit quietly listening, breathing, being. My raven friend comes for a visit. She lands on a long branch of an ancient alder that holds up the creek with her intertwined roots. As a normal part of spring, the alder has set forth her long catkins to feed her many children and to offer her healing powers to those that notice her.
“Good morning, Raven, it is so good to see you. Thank you for visiting me. You look healthy and your feathers are glistening in the morning sun.”
“Ca, coo, coo,” she sings to me bending toward me with her wings shaking quietly like a musician gently shakes her rattle.
I look up as she sings to me in a rhythmic, motherly melody. My heart relaxes and takes in deep breathes of air as I follow her sounds, in and out. In and out.
I sing back even though I don't sound as raven as she does. We sing together. I have forgotten everything I was trying to figure out. My mind has taken the back seat as my body and spirit bring me much needed rest and peace.
“I am so happy you have come to visit me today. Thank you for the sweet song, it makes me smile inside and out. Thank you.”
She sings again to me. Then, knowing that now she has my full attention, she breaks off a twig from the old mother alder. The songbirds have become quiet as if they too are watching and listening to Ravens’ message. I am so curious now as she twirls it in her beak, breaks off a few small pieces and then looks at me.
“Is that how you get the twigs for your nest? Your beak is so strong.”
Just as it seems like she’s made the perfect mini board for her house, she daintily lets it go and watches it twirl to the ground. She breaks off another branch and whittles off the lesser twigs and twirls it in her beak.
“What are you trying to show me? What do you see?” I ask her because I know her visits are sacred messages, secret opportunities to connect with the greater cosmos of meaning, lessons to learn, practices to be in. Our conversation lives in the energy of our shared expression, her shape, the sound of her voice, the way my heart rate slows and we choose to energetically sync together. I am now in her story and she is in mine.
“Now is time for self care.” Tells the raven as she looks down at me.
“Yes, yes, that makes perfect sense. Self care, attending to home, nesting, that is something I can do. It is something we have all been asked to do.”
I wandered into thought about how I’ve been seeing this message in my equine guided coaching work for the last few years. This theme of ‘self care’ seems to be universal whether you are a nurse, a doctor, a construction worker, an engineer, an artist and the list goes on. Most of the people who come to me for coaching are emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted. Its easy to talk about ‘self care’ but its another thing to practice it.
I’ve been learning this lesson the hard way, first surviving breast cancer and now Lyme’s disease. When I don't make ‘self care’ a priority, my health deteriorates and I am ‘good for nothing’. I’ve been humbled by the frenetic, tireless hamster wheel of expectations and those ‘measures of success’ we’ve created silently together.
I agree with raven. The one thing we can do in our ‘time out’ is explore what self care really is. Its been so long since we prized our emotional health as a culture. Long gone are the afternoons on the porch with iced tea bantering with friends and loved ones, or the traditional pot of tea and trumpets. Listening to the radio in the evenings because there was no TV has gone extinct for most of us. Some people are loving the time being at home with their families. Some people are hating it. I think about Ann Frank and the millions of jews who had to hide out in dark, dingy places with little to no fresh air, hoping they wouldn't get captured and forced into concentration camps.
In those dark times, some people overcame despair by searching for deeper meaning. Stories of inspiration and hope survived beyond death and live on to this day. The possibility of meaning is everywhere. It’s how we choose which meaning we want to embrace. Which meaning, those stories make, calm us down? Which meanings rile us up? Which ones make us angry? Which ones displace into blame on others whirling air droplets of hate, just like the virus is doing now?
Back to self care, what are your stories of ‘self care?” Do you feel selfish taking care of yourself? What are the stories that stop you from honoring yourself?
How much time do you distract yourself with other people’s needs?
And if you are great at self care, is there a way you can now share that with others, like being the wise alder at the creek bank?
Self care is not about how many clothes we buy, or how clean our car is, or even how much toilet paper we have. How big does your house, your nest really need to be? How many things do you really need?
Forced into living simply during our ‘time out’ is an opportunity to think about how we choose to live once this is over. What are the wasted activities, purchases, and distractions that you no longer need? What commitments can you make to yourself and/or to your loved ones about focusing on your health? Reflect on how your health is intricately entwined with the health of your local and non local environment. Are your soils healthy? Your health is linked to the air in China. Your health is linked to Polar bear searching for a block of ice. Your health is linked to all the planes, trains, boats and automobiles that are now docked/parked. Your health or lack of it, is earth’s health too and all of the plants and animals and bugs and butterflies.
How you value your own health care (or do not) mirrors how you value the health of the soil that grows your food, the air you need to breath, the water you need to survive. It’s all connected. We talk about it. But now we have to really feel it, feel the weight and realness of it. What are your healthy practices? What is a healthy attitude? What is an unhealthy attitude? Where to start?
What is the virus asking us to attend to? What is it trying to show us about not just our own health, but the health of our world? What does self care mean to you?
For those of us who are not on the front lines now, think about preserving yourself so you can be of service after the crisis,
Raven wisdom suggests to start in your own house, with yourself and work your way out. The alder trees have a message too. Alders were once considered a nuisance by newcomers to the land, but in indigenous cultures they are ancient and wise. They hold up the creek banks and create essential shade for baby salmon and coho. They grow food for birds and deer, pollen, medicine, and plant dye. Their mystic quality is that of building community because one alder root system cannot hold up the bank nor feed everyone. They work in community. Alder medicine is said to harmonize the body and fight infection. No wonder why she has been calling my attention. To be continued….
What meaning are you choosing?
© Ariana Strozzi Mazzucchi 4/3/2020