... when you get close to the truth, you can tell the truth and feel great.
— Chögyam Trungpa,
Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior
It's been a tough year. I started writing the check-in posts back in March with the intention to do them every few weeks. I thought everything with COVID-19 would blow over, just a bad flu season or people would be restrictive to make sure it didn't spread further. I, like many, was a fool.
Fast forward over the three months since I wrote last, Two Months - Which feels much longer, and it feels like so much has happened but nothing has really happened. I don't have much value to add to the commentary about what's happening in the world, specifically Canada and United States. Instead, I wanted to note what has been helping me through these challenging times.
I continue to read the chapter about the Great Eastern Sun regularly, focusing on different phrases depending on my mood. Sometimes, it's about the value of work, others about cleanliness, last night it was about truth. There are many ways to think about what truth means. How I understand it after reading Chögyam Trungpa is that when you start questioning why you feel or think a certain way, don't. Accept who you are and you'll feel better. The weight of thinking you have to be someone different or be as successful as someone else will be a weight off your shoulders.
Of course, people change over time. I am starting to treat change more as highlighting other aspects of one's life. A part that was unable to be explored due to finances or other constraints, or something that was pushed down inside only to be brought out when the environment was right. The core of a person, their truth, is constant throughout life.
Living through the initial period of quarantine taught us a lot about ourselves, our personal truths; the months since have taught us a lot about the people around us or the people we consume through social media.
The first part is difficult to generalize. We all discovered some uncomfortable truths about ourselves that we've had to accept and try to grow from. For myself, it was learning how lonely I can actually be.
Most of my life, I've been too worn out from school, work, or parenting to be concerned about connecting with others in leisure times, instead trying to re-energize through reading, writing, and solitary walks. Hearing about people having regular Zoom chats with friends at night, and then seeing groups social distance in parks, was eye opening to me because none of those things existed for me. It honestly bummed me and had me wondering how I grew into such a solitary person. The name of my blog originally was urban hermit– a name that still suits me.
The second part is something that shouldn't have surprised me, but still did. There is a real divide between the people who think the coronavirus is a threat to global health and the ones who think it's a hoax. I've always been a believer in listening to the other side, to different and challenging ideas. Trying to understand how wearing a mask is wrong, but wearing a shirt and shoes inside is acceptable is difficult. I've seen it cause more rifts between people than anything in the past, even Trump or Bush.
The most common response from people is to cut those people out of their lives. I haven't done that yet and believe it's the wrong approach. We need to remember that everyone is human. When we mistreat the other side, it adds fuel to the fire for the frustration and anger towards us. Talking down, calling them names, or threatening violence seems like a path towards a civil war and less towards a peaceful understanding.
The truth is we are never going to fully understand the other side regardless of the issue at hand. We have to find a way to live with it without destroying our lives or others. Only then will we start to feel good about our lives and community.
Of course, people change over time. I am starting to treat it more as highlighting other aspects of one's life. A part that was unable to be explored due to finances or other constraints, or something that was pushed down inside only to be brought out when the environment was right. The core of a person, their truth, is constant throughout life.