Pondering the Paradoxical Pandemic by Tami Schwerin 5.20.2020

Photos above: Moncure Baby Chick, Abundance NC Virtual Board Meeting, Flatirons of Colorado. Courtesy: © Tami Schwerin 2020

We are all wondering what is going to happen as NC and the nation start opening back up.  There is so much good and so much bad happening at the same time.   Carl Jung would have a field day if he were studying this.  The shadows and the light.

Let’s examine the darkness, the suffering and the horror.  The pandemic is a magnifying glass on the good and bad of humanity.  Just like trauma.

We are seeing our essential workers being put in danger because they have no choice but to go to work, some standing in pools of cold chicken blood elbow to elbow with their co-workers.  They are getting sick and dying in these outbreaks.  These are the same people that ICE and our government are trying to deport.

Creepy old white men with automatic rifles and crazy types of weapons are terrorizing downtown Raleigh.  They are storming the Governor’s mansion, breaking gates, accosting families of color that are strolling down the street.  It’s like a scene from the Netflix show GOTHAM.

By the way, if these men were of color, they would be arrested at best, most likely shot and killed.

The terrorism of people of color continues and is perhaps increasing due to an unnecessary fear from a certain demographic of white people.  Hurt people hurt people.

People are staying home, going to the ABC stores to medicate their anxiety in droves and domestic violence is at an all time high while other crimes have fallen.

Economics, we all know what is happening here.  The uncertainty of how we will pay our bills and keep people working is scary.

The stress of keeping people alive from our frontline nurses and doctors is creating an increase in suicide and PTSD.  The fact that people cannot even be with their loved ones when they die or even have a proper funeral is tragic.

Then on the flipside.

Our earth has been healing at an amazing rate.  Air and water pollution is dissipating as we have given a break to this beautiful planet.  We have not really given the break, mother earth demanded.

Animals that have been endangered are getting a break from the invasive population of humans and are relaxing and reproducing.

The goodness of people is being seen more than the darkness.  People are sharing with strangers, making sacrifices for the greater good.  There is an innate need to get outside in nature and to be grateful for what we have.

There is a war time mentality.  Folks are sewing masks and making hand sanitizer to give away.  Contributing with what they have to give.

Farm and garden stores are up 100% as our country turns to planting seeds for the first time.  Growing our own food is becoming priority.  Working in the dirt is a strategy for stress reduction.

We are slowing down.

We finally have time to think about what is important instead of just reacting to the rat race that we are accustomed to.  It’s not about consumerism for once.  There is enough.  It takes a slower pace to realize that.

Most Americans have rooms and piles and cabinets full of STUFF.  With this pandemic, many are cleaning, purging, reusing and understanding our wastefulness.

Humans are helping other humans.  We are seeing great acts of kindness.  Strangers are nicer to each other when driving and in grocery stores because we are all in this initiation together.

Creativity is taking a leap. It’s magical to see all the arts being created and shared during mandatory stay at home orders.

Personally, this has been an amazing time to reset my priorities, my health, and my work.  In the beginning I certainly had some fear that we were all going to die.  I had just driven 5000 miles across the United States and got back in town just in time for lockdown.  I was exhausted from years of distraction, grief, stress, over-achieving, doing and buying into this production economy that we live in.  I pretty quickly came to peace with that since I’ve lost my 19 year old son, death doesn’t seem to be that bad.  It now seems mysterious and beautiful and part of the cycle of life.  I don’t want to bear the loss of any more loves.  And our world is beautiful…so I’d like to hang out a bit longer, though!

The idea of staying in place was a gift from the Universe.  (I do not live in an apartment, and I have enough food and supplies unlike many in the world.)  I have been running and doing since I was a teenager.  Long summer days of playing in the woods, riding bikes or being carefree with grandparents turned into achieving and producing.

The more I achieved, the more I needed to.  I created businesses, a family, beautiful spaces, amazing events, worked on the “greater good” and became completely depleted.  It was all outer focused.

The Great Pause gave me time to REST AND RESET.

Time to look inside, Time to figure out WHAT I WANT TO DO.  I cleaned a pantry (historical).  I put in a rose garden in honour of my Granny Wilson, I dug in the dirt with my son Arlo and our sweet neighbors on our community farm.  I worked with my hands and my back.  I cooked and cooked all day to make sure we were eating well and building our immune system.  I researched the human body and nutrition which I never had prioritized before.  I stopped sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten and nightshades! Ha…not easy to do.  I had time to ride my bicycle once again and do a little yoga in the sun.  I spent a lot of time alone and loved every minute of it.  I started craving my evening routine of meditation and mindful cooking.

I decided to get baby chicks for the sheer joy of it and get a flock going again.  Evidently this was not an original idea as the entire nation has a shortage of chicks.

I made phone calls to old friends that I had not spoken to in months, I zoomed with friends and family and connected on a different level.  I wrote letters which is a lost art that we should all bring back.  It’s a joy to sit down and think of that person and connect with pen and paper and maybe art and a fun stamp.

I prioritized my family and became grateful for all that I have been given, even the trauma.

Abundance went from thinking philosophically to matching people that can give, to people that need help right now.  An incredibly rewarding program Neighbor2Neighbor where we get to see up close the goodness of this community.  With the help of the Chatham Record, and Caremongering Pittsboro facebook, a mutual aid program is evolving.

Mutual aid is defined as a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit.

We will be taking it another step and working on bringing the Time Bank back to life.

When we venture into the unknown of this pandemic, let’s be intentional about what we want to create.

We have a huge opportunity now to turn this into what we’ve all been waiting for.  A portal into the future.

Photos above: Abundance NC Staff Meeting / Little Pond Farm Work Day /  Courtesy: © Tami Schwerin 2020