So, welcome to day forty-nine hundred thousand into this COVID-19 self-isolation barrel of monkeys! Or as some like to call it, week freaking three. Are we having fun yet? Anybody? No? No-one? Just me? That’s cool. Also that last part was total sarcasm. Just wanted to make that known. Mainly because, when I was younger, and I dreamt of this moment in time in my late 30’s, no where in the history of anything could I have come up with this cluster whipper snipper of a plot line. Just shows you gotta dream big. I’m gonna need to have a few words with the Author.
At this point I think it’s safe to say that we are all going a little stir crazy. And by a little, I mean a lot. Our routines have been completely turned on it’s head and thrown into a blender of epic proportions. We’re grasping at absolutely anything and everything we can possibly think of to pass the time. Sure it leaves me more time for the important things like songwriting, recording, blogging and sitting alone with my thoughts, (I’ve been avoiding that last one on purpose.)
Working out at home until the gym opens again is helpful but it’s not the same. But I’ve committed to it to keep some level of a routine. I still have my one job which I’m thankful for. At least I have some level of income during this craziness. It isn’t much but it’s something. I’ve also decided to do some more baking/cooking and get those creative kitchen juices flowing again. Also, how many times can one person clean the inside of their fridge and under their bed? Asking for a friend. I’ve also taken up colouring. Yes, you heard me. I bought actual pencil crayons and those adult colouring books that are supposed to “reduce stress.” Still waiting. At this rate, I’m gonna be freaking Michelangelo by the time this is all over with. The writing has increased. I always have ideas knocking around but now I actually have the overabundance of time to sit and work through some of it resulting in a finished product.
Alone or “me” time is one thing. When it’s a choice. Mandatory, extended lengths of total or even partial isolation is quite another. We are meant to be social, relational creatures, which is why this whole situation feels so gross and unnatural. I feel so restless, frustrated, irritable, lonely, and just a general sense of “blah.” (Did I already mention this is only week three?)
I’ve been trying to think of what good could possibly come out of any of this, if anything at all. And then, there it was. As I was scrolling through social media (don’t judge me, these are dire times.) I saw a quote that immediately resonated with me and helped me to see even a faint, sliver of a silver lining.
“The caterpillar grows wings during a season of isolation. Remember that next time you’re alone.”
One of my favourite metaphors or illustrations that I’ve found to help me understand life is the butterfly. Or should I say, the journey the caterpillar takes to become the butterfly. I’ve used it before in a previous blog called “The Butterfly Effect” where I go into more depth about it but I’ll approach it from a different angle for this specific blog’s purpose.
The “Cole’s Notes” version is, the caterpillar eats himself into oblivion, and then finds a leaf or branch that looks cozy and forms a chrysalis around itself for a period of time. He is completely isolated from anyone and anything going on around him. From the outside looking in, it appears that there is absolutely nothing going on inside. There’s no movement. No hint of what is actually taking place inside. To someone who doesn’t know any better, it would appear dead and lifeless. It would appear that life is over for the little guy. But in reality, hidden away from the world, life is actually just about to get started. The process has already begun.
The thing to remember here is that birth or new life always requires isolation. Whether it’s a human baby, a plant (seed) or any creature in the animal kingdom for that matter. Where there is about to be rebirth, there is always a process. And that process requires a season of being hidden and isolated. Not because God or nature is cruel or wants us to be lonely. It’s quite the opposite actually. It’s because this new life that is being formed is so precious and fragile in this stage that it needs protection, for a season, so that it can reach it’s full potential. We were created for life, for growth, for relationship. If something isn’t growing, it’s dead. There is no in between. Anything that is considered to be “good” is never immediate. It will always require itself to go through a process to be able to become what it was intended to be.
Something else a season of isolation can offer us is that of perspective. Separating the things that actually matter verses the dead weight that we only thought mattered. When we had so many options, everything mattered. Even the toxic and unhealthy stuff. We just couldn’t see it. Until now. Now that everything has been stripped away, we’re left to discover what truly means the world to us and what isn’t essential going forward. That dead weight that’s been holding us back from reaching our full potential. Coming out the other side of this I’m willing to bet a lot of us will make decisions a little differently, myself included.
When things get taken away or when we’re kept apart from something for a season, it helps us to realize one of two things: how much we missed it OR how much we DIDN’T miss it. I really miss music. I miss singing live. I miss going to shows and the crowds. I miss the people in my life I got used to seeing on a regular basis. I miss the simple concept of being around good company. I miss being able to be out in nature without getting the virtual stink eye from all the social media warriors with nothing better to do. Simple things like going out for dinner or to a concert or even to the mall are all sounding pretty great to me right about now. The people and places that perhaps we took for granted, either intentionally or unintentionally all of sudden mean something more now than they did a month ago.
I miss my kids. I’ve missed them for over two years now but in times like this I especially wish I could call them up and talk to them or hang out with them. I’d settle for just being able to see their faces through our phones but I know that isn’t possible right now. Virus or no virus. I just really miss their company. Especially now that they’re getting to be young men. It’s killing me not to have that time with them. I have to intentionally shut down emotionally and not think about it just to be able to get through these very long days.
I know when this is over I’m going to sing louder, laugh harder, and be more intentional about how I spend my time and who I spend it with. Do all the things that bring me joy. Surround myself with anything, everything and everyone that make me feel alive. This process has made me more thankful than ever before for what I DO have. This year hasn’t started out so great for many of us but I have to believe that there is still hope that in the near future, after the dust has settled, that this year can and will be great! Because of what we went through, not merely in spite of it.
If we choose to look at this necessary yet lonely, inconvenient season as a sort of cocoon instead of a coffin, we might surprise ourselves with how we emerge when this is all over and done with.