This is my sixth day of quarantine and still no results from the COVID test. I remain fairly certain that what I have is a challenging cold – the kind of cold that a year ago would not have caused me anxiety or fear, but in the face of a pandemic has made me wonder and imagine if I had contracted “IT.” Today, it still feels like a cold, but my symptoms are less severe, and some energy is returning, making me think that I’ve made it to the other side.
When is a just a cold, not just a cold? Certainly in the physical sense of day-to-day reality, it could be a cold or it could be COVID. That’s been the big question. But for me, life events are always a series of symbols and cycles that are always asking to be explored.
When was the last time I just stopped? On January1, my type-A personality outlined a list of goals and action steps for the new year, and a marketing plan for a new book. I was in a full sprint discipline and focus, feeling pretty good about myself when the universe kicked me in the ass and I was down for the count. Why? How? I exercise every day and eat well, so what’s the deal? The answer didn’t take any digging at all. It exploded in me: Stop. Get quiet. That’s the deal.
I believe that the universe, God, whatever you want to call it -- that creative life force, always gives me exactly what I need. I know the truth that the older years are best lived contemplatively; that there exists a vibration of spirit humming deeply in my soul these later years. But even in the knowing of that truth, I had rolled right through the stop sign, without coming to a complete stop. This cold was going to be my full stop. Stop doing. Stop Zooming. Stop calling. Stop deadlines. Stop outlines. Just be.
Breathe. For a few days, I took long, deep breaths, telling myself that as long as I could take deep breaths, I didn’t have COVID. Moreover, the effect of long deep breaths, was to close my eyes and feel the heaviness in my body and spirit, a heaviness born of chaos, fear and an unrelenting anxiety these past four years. I drifted in and out of sleep throughout the past week, loosening my grip and surrendering to the need of a full stop.
Like a child who was home sick from school, I gathered art things around me, my bed a quiet playground of doodles and journaling in between hours of sleep. My mind slowed down too – the incessant chatter and mental lists, receding into deep and dreamless sleep.
This morning, I feel thankful to the annoying symptoms that metaphorically brought me to my knees. I’m humbled by my body’s process to heal, my mind’s process to slow, and my heat’s process to look deeper and embrace the gifts. Today is a new beginning and I’m on the mend. Next week I can slowly begin working again, but for now, I’m leaving this message on the universe’s voice mail: “Hi. This is Stephanie. Just wanted to call you back and say Thanks for reaching out.”