Day 152 - Flu...
Ok, it is on my mind...perhaps more than it should be...I read a book by the same name back in the 1990s written by Gina Kolata about the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918. It was haunting and even though I read it awhile ago, I still remember it. If I am honest, it kind of freaked me out.
So here we are and it is happening again. People are dying. You cannot buy hand sanitizer or masks on Amazon or Target. They are sold out. Right now there are 80 reported cases in the US. On Monday there were 12. Out of the 80 reported cases, 9 people have died. I do not like the numbers. Not because they are so bad, probably as many people died last year from a different kind of flu, but because I am not sure that I believe the numbers. I am not sure that I believe the government and what they tell us.
As I sit here in my bed writing this, I realize that I have a great deal of mistrust for pretty much everyone in the know. I do not trust the media, the government or the health agencies. I think that they lie to us to keep everyone from freaking out.
I am beginning to get worried. This is not an intentional thing. It is not something that I want to have happening in my life. It is just becoming the screen saver in my mind. Thinking about all the things that are about to change.
What I am really tapping into here is how powerless I feel. I have only felt this level of powerless twice in my life...when I couldn’t stop drinking and then when my plane almost crashed. The former being something that I lived with for some time, the later being something much more acute but shorter in duration. Both times, I came face to face with my own powerlessness and I didn’t like it. In the final moments of each situation, I had to accept that I could not stop drinking no matter what I did and that there was absolutely nothing I could to do to keep my plane in the sky. Both times, death seemed imminent, and my reaction was one of “NO! HELL NO!”
When I was bottoming out with booze and my reaction to impending death was a strident refusal, it became the rich core of survival instinct that would allow my ego to be ventilated enough so that I could get some help and then continue to seek that same help even though everything they told me appeared to be stupid and crappy.
When I was on that plane, hyperventilating into the air sickness bag from the seat pocket in front of me, I realized that I did not want to die. I wasn’t done yet. There were things that I wanted to do. The most important one raising my kids to adulthood. That was my overwhelming mental stumbling block as the plane rapidly decreased in altitude...”I do not want my children to be motherless. Bad things happen to kids without moms.”
I am kind of there with this flu thing. I can see that it is going to play out however it does. There are preventative things that I can do that are being recommended but in the final analysis, I am powerless. And I do not like it.
I, in fact, never like coming up against my powerlessness. I am pretty happy living in the delusion that I can and do have a say so over my life and it’s trajectory. This flu thing is seriously interrupting my delusion.
Yet here we all are. This is going to happen. There is a lot of hype and misinformation. It is coming at a time when allergies are running high and everyone is more susceptible to sneezing and coughing. If this gets as bad as it has in China, we are in for some very hard times.
According to the World Health Organization this morning, there are currently 93,090 reported cases. 2,233 globally in the last 24 hours. And there have been 3198 deaths so far. This is all in relation to the cases that they know about. I am pretty sure it is likely worse than this.
I can’t say that I am not afraid, that I am not concerned. That I am not spending mental energy thinking about this and its effect. I read Gina’s book. I know how this goes down. Yet, I am struggling to do what I can to remain calm and realistic. Trying to draw on my two previous confrontations with powerlessness so that I can see this as an opportunity for growth. It is easy to give into the panic. It is easy to freak out. Harder, is to remain calm and accept that life is this precious and precarious thing. It is not something that we can cling to in a manner that will prevent it from leaving when the time comes.
I am concerned. I feel horrible for all the people affected world wide. I am worried that my mistrust for what we are being told by the powers that be is not correct. I do not like being dependent on sources that I mistrust for information that I need to keep myself and my family safer and healthy. However, this is where I am. Life requiring me one more time to accept that I am not in charge of much of anything. I have to deal with whatever comes and the only real choice that I have about any of it is the attitude I bring.
So I am going to enjoy my life today. I am going to look at the people who matter to me with fresh eyes and see them for the miraculous beings they are. I am going to marvel in the ants that tend to invade my kitchen and I am going to grateful for my health. I am going to take the precautions I can and then I am going to rest in the knowledge that I am in fact powerless over people, places and things. The Corona Virus now being embodied in all three of those things.
I am also going to try to use this experience as a way to wake up in my life. To see how precious and fleeting life really is. I am going to try to love deeper, have a longer fuse with situations and people who frustrate me, I am going to try to be a beacon of love and tolerance, seems like the world could use this now. I am going to do tonglen for all of us as we navigate the new world order that this virus has brought to us. I am going to pray that we all are able to take the hard circumstances life brings us and use them as a way to wake up and be present in our lives.
I do not believe that this will stop me from being afraid and it certainly won’t stop me from being infected. However, I hope it will be the best use of my time, whatever time that might be.
Not a particularly cheery subject from me this morning. It is where I am. I promised to be authentic. I promised to tell the truth. Today, I am scared and in pain because I can feel the pain of other’s acutely not just because I am worried about myself. My heart goes out to those who are sick and suffering. My heart goes out to those who have lost family members. My heart goes out to all of us sentient beings who are capable of thinking abstractly about our own mortality. Today, I will try to be of service in whatever capacity I can. I will try to sit with my own confusion and fear and pray that my willingness to do this can help someone else. This is all I know to do when confronted with powerlessness: love, pray, serve. Oh, and wash my hands...