the wall

the pandemic pattern

We are coming up on the year anniversary of pandemic quarantine. Because we’ve endured nearly a year of this, I’ve noticed a pattern:

I see the bright side of things, make plans, enjoy the downtime. Then the novelty of my optimism begins to wear off. Sometimes more quickly than others. It starts with irritation and then moves up to full blown rage or apathy, depending. I’ve started naming it The Pandemic Wall. It typically lasts for a week or three - and then the whole pattern starts all over again.

The funny thing is that I’ve observed it in friends too. Not necessarily the same cycle as mine, but that The Pandemic Wall comes for all of us, a point at which we reach the end of our ropes and something has to give. I noticed it coming again a few weeks ago, and I realized that as I could feel The Wall coming, I said to myself, “oh, here this is again.”

For the first nine months (at least) of this thing, I would spend far too much time and energy shoulding myself about all of the things I had to be grateful for and happy about after I had hit The Pandemic Wall. When I felt The Wall coming this time, I tried to approach it like a lost old friend, not someone I necessarily want to hang out with these days, but someone I wouldn’t mind saying hello to and sharing a brief catch-up with. The Wall is still there and still annoying, but it seems to have lost some of its power and tenacity.

Yin yogis, especially, like to quote Carl Jung’s famous (and ingenious) quip: “what we resist, persists.” The magic ingredient of yin yoga is the time held in the pose (usually several minutes), so if you’re open to it, more release comes the longer you hold the pose. The more we fight the sensations of the pose - whether they’re in our bodies, our spirits, or our minds - the more suffering we create. But if we can let go and surrender to the sensations, witnessing them or even getting curious about them, we can experience more depth to the practice. The chance to build this skill is mostly why I practice and teach so much yin yoga.

The same is true off of our mats, as well, of course. If we can acknowledge The Wall (or whatever it is that you’re struggling with) and maybe even get curious about what it is trying to tell us, it relinquishes some of its hold on us. With practice, we might even be able to see it as a teacher, trying to signal to us that we need something different for a time. Perhaps more rest, less hustle, more time to ourselves, or maybe something as simple as a tall glass of water.

Like anything, this is a practice, and not just another thing to should yourself about. But if, like me, you’ve hit The Pandemic Wall yet again, maybe try seeing it as that old friend instead of the unknown enemy. Try sitting with it, naming it, perhaps even asking it some questions about what it has come to tell you.

Rants and raves

👍 I made the whole fam watch this project about male caregivers. This series developed by Caring Across Generations helps men who are “man enough to care” share their stories. I am so hopeful that a #CovidSilverLining is that we better value - economically and culturally - caregiving, the work that makes all other work possible.

👍 I read my first Octavio Butler (finally). Kindred was so good, and I have now added all of her books to my TBR stack.

👍 I almost always get something valuable out of James Clear’s newsletter each week, but I’m planning on adding this question to my morning journaling routine for at least a few weeks to see where it goes.

👎 My self-discipline flew out the window with this round of The Pandemic Wall, and I would really like to find it sometime soon. I’m trying to sit with it, but also, despite all of my advice above, I would really like it to return sooner rather than later.

Worth sharing this week

Seasonal view of the week

The winter light is dreamy, and I love all of those wheelbarrow tracks back-and-forth to the wood pile to feed the wood burning stove…

Cheers to sitting with whatever your Pandemic Wall looks like in the week ahead!


P.S. Know someone who would like this sort of thing? I’d love it if you’d share this newsletter with a friend (or seven!)


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