Rage. Pandemic rage. Perhaps you’ve felt it too. For a few days this week I raged. I wanted to burn it all down. You wouldn’t know it by talking to me. I acted pretty normal. I didn’t even know what I was feeling. If anything, I felt depressed, even a little numb. I felt disconnected from myself, and subsequently, from others.
When I realized I was disconnected, I began with the most basic of questions: where am I at right now? What am I feeling? As I stepped through the forest of my mind, I approached a clearing lit by a massive bonfire and in that white hot fire burned summer concerts, hugs from my sister, in-person school, fall sports, time with my mom, college experiences, jobs, lives, futures.
I am so angry.
In the face of all this fiery grief, my internal constructs began smoking. The habits and behaviors upon which I built my days during this pandemic suddenly felt pointless. If I’ve been doing the right things like wearing a mask, restricting trips to necessities, and staying socially distant then why aren’t we making progress? Why can’t we have nice things?
That’s rhetorical, folks. I know why we aren’t making progress. We are fighting a war as individual cities and states instead of as a nation. I’ve never felt so let down as a citizen.
Where am I at right now? Once I acknowledged the white hot rage inside me, I began to feel again. It is a slow road back to feeling positively. I used to say “to feeling like myself,” but that limits me. Experiencing rage and grief is also feeling like myself.
I took advantage of the burning rage at the center of my emotional clearing. Glancing around, I asked myself what is no longer serving me. I uprooted scrolling social media and threw it on the fire. I peeled off the news notifications on my phone and tablet and threw them on the fire. I kept the daily news email I read over coffee. I kept the advice column from which I learn so much about myself. I kept all my contacts and my libraries.
Brush cleared, I asked myself what do I now have room for? What would feel like a small victory in the face of pandemic challenges? What can I be curious about? On the advice of that columnist, I brought my focus in tight to the present. I began meditating and freewriting. Perhaps the turn of a particular phrase like “bruised purple clouds” could lend itself to a poem. I could get curious about writing; I could take a class about poetry.
After dark days of fiery grief and rage, hope flickered.