Why, I’ve been wondering, am I so tired, so tired that the thought of sitting down and writing something about it required almost more energy than I could muster. But I knew it was important for me to look at it and I am hoping that the act of writing and sharing will help shift the energy, for others as well as myself.

Unplugged
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon, Seattle, WA

“I feel like somebody unplugged me,” my friend Wendy said last night. “Then they left the plug lying on the ground and walked away.”

Another friend, who two weeks ago was working in her garden every day and had sworn off television, is now binge-watching reruns. “I’m so tired,” she says. “I just can’t motivate myself.” Everyone I know is talking on the phone less and less. “I’m too tired to talk,” they say.

We live in the country that has one-third of the global cases of the coronavirus and the number is still climbing. No wonder we’re tired.

Then there’s New Zealand, which has “eliminated” Covid-19. “The real key to New Zealand’s success,” says a story that appeared on CNN on April 28, “appears to be an approach that could be applied anywhere—moving swiftly, testing widely, and relying heavily on good science.” But, the story goes on, “although New Zealand is currently being seen as a success story, it also shows that gains in the fight against Covid-19 doesn’t mean a return to life as normal. Despite New Zealand’s early success, the country is still effectively in lockdown.”

We have not even plateaued here yet, much less seen our infection rate decrease. And we know, whether we want to or not, what the results will be from the actions taken by the states that are rushing to open. Testing is still not widely available anywhere in the country (unless you happen to be in the White House) and tracing is just beginning to be conceptualized.

“New Zealand got everything right,” said Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccine expert at the University of Auckland in an AP story that appeared in the New York Post. “Decisive action, with strong leadership and very clear communications to everybody.”

Yes, well. The closest thing this country has to a strong, clear leader is the governor of New York. The man wearing the title of president obfuscates and lies. One way or another, he is leading this country off a cliff. If the virus doesn’t get us, the divisions between us will.

I don’t think of myself as a naïve person but somehow I always believed that, in times of great national crisis, a leader fit for the need would emerge. Roosevelt and Churchill. Abraham Lincoln. Nelson Mandela. It’s not that they could take away the pain or the struggle. One still had to soldier on, for however long it took. But, in the midst of that pain and struggle, such leaders helped people believe that their sacrifices were worthwhile, in part because there was intelligent, caring leadership at the helm. And a plan. It makes a difference. Day to day, it makes a difference.

I don’t want this country to implode. I don’t want to be so discouraged by what I hear in the news every day that I drag myself through the hours I am awake and have trouble falling asleep at night. I don’t know how to shift my inner stance so that isn’t the case. I know I must. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.

6 Comments

  1. Ellin Snow’s blog contribution May 3, 2020:

    Ah, Ruth…though I know you were writing about your own experience, I totally identified with the feelings you expressed in this blog today! You have helped me understand my own often unsuccessful efforts to pull myself together and make something of each day. I feel as though I am repeatedly cycling up a hill only to be pushed back down it just as I am about to reach the peak. No wonder we both feel so tired!

    I have always thought of myself as an optimistic person, busily making lemonade out of any lemons I find. After living through the past two months of our president’s dangerous non-leadership, I feel as though a hole has been punched in my stock of optimism.

    Each day I try to find and accomplish tasks or activities that seem worthwhile. Friends remind me that I have the gift of making music and they offer ideas on how to use that gift during this quarantine. Though I appreciate their offerings, I cannot work up the energy to figure out a plan to do that. Until having read your blog today, I didn’t quite understand why that is, and now I do have a clue. Will that help me to move ahead? I don’t know, but I do thank you for your self-awareness and honesty in sharing it. May we and all others going through similar feelings benefit by what you have written, and be able to push through what is holding us back. And may we each stay well!

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Leadership does matter. It’s clear presence expands and emboldens a vision of a collective future. Its absence increases the vulnerability of a nation, a city, a congregation, a family, the individuals that make up each. Resulting over time to a kind of emotional stuckness fueled by chronic societal anxiety and worry. Necessitating, in addition to actively promoting new leadership, working on one’s own immunology to the enervating stress.

    Structure helps. I find having goals for my today and my tomorrows helps. Reflecting ways I can exercise leadership in my own life. Working to achieve something for myself versus keeping busy, biding time. Clear intentions acted upon. So, in addition to ‘chopping wood and carrying water:), keeping and nurturing relationships, advancing my musical aptitude, outside exercise routines, pursuing a greater appreciation anc understanding of the science ( physics and evolutionary theory), building a disciplined nutrition routine….setting aside time for nothing. Cultivatjng one’s garden literally and metaphorically.

    This kind of defining ‘leadership of the self’ is no substitute for the kind of collective leadership currently absent this country. Nor is it intended to be. However my personal efforts in concert with yours and others does activate my ’emotional immune system’ I’m response to all the current anxiety within and from my surrounding environment.

    I’ve gotten pretty good at this. Giving my occasional regression into helplessness less of a half life…and so less to forgive:) A little self leadership goes a long way…

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  3. Ruth, thank you for your clarity and vulnerability! I not only identify but then I feel guilty because I have a life of white privilege and so many are really in trouble.

    What has become my saving grace was asking myself “what can I be doing that has some juice for me and hopefully contributes to the Great Turning, the Great Pause?” I decided to start posting a song a week on YouTube and working on that has opened up my humanity again. I’m 71, retired, and this is NOT what I thought it would look like.

    Well Boomers, apparently we’re not done yet. We have another verse to write to our song of life, so GET TO IT! You know you still have another inning in you to give to the team.

    We have not finished the work we came here to do,
    May the Force be strong in you,
    Stephen

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ruth, this is very wise. I’m doing mental health work with folks in LA affected by the pandemic, and your highlighting this very special aspect of what we’re going thru is so important. It was tough enough to go thru stuff in the past with prudent and effective leaders. But to be dealing with something so scary and so totally unprecedented in our lifetimes and with leadership that’s stupid, ignorant, evil, and mentally ill makes everything much, much worse. Thanks so much for underlining this.

    Liked by 1 person

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