In Search of Equilibrium

I watched and read way too much of the news late last week. To get caught up, I reasoned. I have noticed that being mostly at home has been an effortless slide back into the way-too-easy concept of “normal” in the midst of craziness. It is our nature – as is Nature’s – to move towards equilibrium when disruption occurs. This is why we keep talking about getting back to normal. Or even a “new normal” – an overused phrase I think I dislike even more than “normal”. Yes to equilibrium – it is the way. And, I keep wondering, what are the parts of normal that are worth moving back to?

As to my deep dive into the news…

  • Schools in MN are officially on-line for the remainder of the school year. A key system disrupted.
  • Nearby meat-packing plants are closing down because of active infection running rampant in the facilities. A key system disrupted.
  • Certain states are opening stay-at-home restrictions early. Emotional reaction to a key system disrupted.
  • Financial experts are reporting that states should consider bankruptcy rather than expect more money from the government. Multiple layers of key systems disrupted.
  • Farmers are throwing out thousands of gallons of milk because schools are closed and there’s no one drinking it. Again, multiple layers of key systems disrupted.
  • Personally, I have been furloughed from my hospital-job until the end of August (!!!). Family and personal systems disrupted because key systems are disrupted.

I can barely go on, but I absolutely could. This is the tip of the iceberg.

Every key system is being turned on its head. Each one I hear about, I can see in my mind’s eye the ways that system is deeply interconnected to every other system; how each individual life is deeply interconnected to every other life. And then I wonder how our collective lives will change – how each individual life will change – in each of these particular ways.

Equilibrium is a state of balance achieved by constant movement, working with the influences that push or pull one off kilter. No state of equilibrium, once achieved, is the same as the one before, nor will it be the same as the one after, because the forces that influence it are always in flux. We are moving within this system constantly; this is the natural state of our being. This is the natural state of all that surrounds us. And interestingly, we are told by the very institutions and systems that are breaking down that it is possible to find what is “normal” and to stay there. We are told that we should expect to find it, and when we don’t, that something has gone terribly wrong.

But the truth is, the state of perpetual certainty that “normal” connotes doesn’t exist.

What the heck do we do with that, beyond refer back to the adage that “change is the only constant” and find it within ourselves to work with it, rather than against. To acknowledge its truth and how it influences our particular lives to live in relationship with impermanence and uncertainty.

I believe this time of pandemic is asking us to get better at working with. And I think there’s a reason the expression that has bubbled up everywhere at this time is, “We’re in this together”.

So, in our search for equilibrium rather than a new normal, how do we work with what isn’t working?

To imagine there is a normal to go back to, while understandable, is folly. And the more we assume that we will not be forever altered by the systemic breakdown of this time, the harder it will be for us down the road.

But it makes me think that, as is true with all major experiences of uncertainty – accident, illness, dying, death, loss, grief – it takes time to “get it”. It takes time and space to adjust and readjust, assimilate and integrate. This is resilience. And denial is simply a part of the process.

I want to stay connected to the news because I want to remember what’s happening. I want to remember how topsy turvy everything continues to be. And I actually want to remember that things are different and will continue to be. That life as we know it is changed.

But in addition to the self-care practice that keeps me from embroiling myself in the desolation of the newsfeed narrative on a daily basis, I also want to remember that this time is ripe with possibility. I want to remember that disruption brings opportunity.

How are you leaning into or away from the truth of this global disruption, as well as your personal one? When have you experienced loss and grief in your life before and what did you do with it?

The truth is, we’ve all experienced varying states of loss and grief in our lifetimes; we are not unfamiliar with its mechanics and influences in our lives. We have all been there and can bring that experience forward to support us now.

So with that, I can’t help but wonder, what changes have disruption brought about in your life before? And what might this time of pandemic be inviting you into now?

You are not alone in your inquiry, if you choose to go there. Or rather, when you go there. Because I think it is a given.

Nor are you alone in your movements towards equilibrium, moment to moment to moment. As we remember ourselves and what it is to lean into and work with what is happening, we can remember that indeed, we are in this together.//