Making Connections in This Pandemic … and Planting Your Face in Moss

At one point of working remotely in this pandemic, in one of the I-can’t-believe-I’m-working-40-hours-pretending-everything-is-normal-when-the-world-is-ending moments, I went outside, exhausted, and did a face plant in the ground. Later that day I had a team Google Meet and shared this face-in-the-earth tidbit when it was my turn for a check in. Later I found out it felt significant to people on the call, which made me glad I had shared.

Sharing and connecting with others has taken on vastly new meaning over these past months of virtual connections. I have cried in bittersweet gratitude — after walking along the socially distanced arrows on the floor out of the only local coffee shop open on a Saturday morning — having purchased whatever coffee was brewed and the only baked good in the case. Main street is suffering and I am grieving.

Another day, I drove to the post office to mail a card and parked across the street from the sublime yoga studio where I used to meditate, in person, every Wednesday morning. The studio is now, sadly, out of business and I was verklempt with nostalgia for the simple routine of being able to gather together in person (though our virtual meditations are truly lovely). Our adaptibility as a species is being tested for sure. We may be proving, ever so slightly, to be capable of emulating other species in their incredible survival skills as we make safety agreements with whomever is in our personal contact pod and evolve our behaviors accordingly. Here’s hoping.

Of note this past week are four personal experiences with other humans. The first was a mask wearing equipment exchange made with a colleague at his house. Sounds routine right? It was the only human contact I’d had besides my husband in a couple of days and it was as if we’d attempted an hour long chat intensely concentrated into 7 1/2 minutes. His daughter even came outside with a scarf around her face to meet my dog Rosie. I later learned via text that she renamed her stuffed dog Rosie. Absolutely precious.

The second experience was a walk through the woods with a friend. It had been weeks of coordinating and when I saw her in the parking lot I hugged her — both of us wearing masks and facing away. It was so brief. I apologized.

We walked along what now feels to be a sacred path along a sacred waterway! There were other people and other dogs! Rosie didn’t seem to mind the two little twins nipping at her as we walked by. My friend and I shared intensely as if we might never see each other again… I’m being dramatic, given the fact that this friend and I have a habit of sharing deeply. But these feelings are real and, given the recent experience of holding my breath through the COVID recovery of my closest living relative not in my pod, well within the realm of possibility.

The third experience was having Thanksgiving dinner with the family members in my pod. I know many have held their dinners safely over Zoom — even cooking together virtually, which to me is the epitome of soul-nourishing adaptability. But our family cooked together. Every word felt like music. It’s a wonder I didn’t break the no-this-is-not-the-most-precious-experience-ever-and-I-love-you-all-so-much-I-could-explode facade that actually keeps me from exploding. Aren’t we all quite good at wearing this invisible mask in order to not fall apart?

Well my fourth personal sublime experience this week was a Zoom call with a dozen friends of a friend who had recently lost her mother. Motherhood is precious, sacred, holy, and incredibly powerful in every way imaginable. And whether or not the current capitalist society deems it to be in their economic interests to deny, obfuscate and attempt to refute this truth. I don’t care. Motherhood endures through every emotional, financial, environmental, physical and spiritual test it is given, and no matter how tense or loving one’s relationship is or was with their mother, it will always be central and critical.

We learn through pain and joy; arguably more through pain. So we must give thanks for the deep and enduring lessons we learn from our mothers. My mother passed 20 years too soon, and though she had a lovely memorial service, I am still yearning for the sort of connection and story sharing my friend experienced virtually this week. I intend to invite childhood friends and family members to share their memories with me in this same way. I believe their stories will help me expand my appreciation and understanding of my mother. Not unlike the act of planting my face in the soft and infinitely resilient mosses of mother earth.

Thank you for reading.

With all of our precious emotions swirling around seeking grounding, I wrote a blog about the power of journaling on my InnerFortune.com site. This is part of a monthly series called 2020, the Year of Truth. On deck for December is the theme of Making Love — stay tuned for this as well as my forthcoming book… Beyond Karen: Understanding and Unpacking an Epic Epithet…available very soon!

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Karen Willard Ribeiro

Beyond Karen: emerging from the depths of an epic epithet is available at innerfortune.com and at your favorite independent bookseller. Thanks for reading.