Keeping Perspective, Staying Open

Previously, I wrote about the economic strain the COVID-19 virus is and will be causing across the U.S.A. For me, as a psychotherapist in private practice, I’ve had to stop seeing people in person, per the need for social distancing to remain uninfected, towards “flattening the curve” of overall infection rate. This week, I’ve just started to feel the economic effects of doing this. Even with the remote/teletherapy option I’m offering to everyone on my caseload, more of my clients than usual are canceling their appointments. This is to be expected, given how the pandemic is upending people’s lives. In response to this precipitous drop in revenue, I’ve already started to tighten my budget where I can. I’m not a big spender, so there hasn’t been a lot to trim back. Fortunately, I’ll be able to pay a smaller amount for my next quarterly tax installment, due in June, since I’ll be making less money. Still, anxiety about my financial future lurks around the edges inside me, reinforced by the knowledge that my retirement savings in the stock market have been shrinking of late. I know these money worries are arising for many people.

Others have it a heck of a lot harder than I do. There is still so much I have to be grateful for.

This new normal is bound to go on for months. What is already quite challenging is the restriction in movement to which I’m having to adjust. My husband and I would probably still be out to dinner somewhere on our Tuesday date night. Of course, this can’t happen anymore, except at home. Just watching Petula Clark sing “Downtown” on PBS a short while ago felt oddly sad.

I’m curious to see how I evolve in response to these big changes in life and routines. I think a key plan here is to do all I can to live from that place of open curiosity as much as possible. And I need to remember to treasure the small and large expressions of beauty to be found everywhere, including what the advent of spring offers. I just need to keep my eyes and heart open to readily notice it all.

3 thoughts on “Keeping Perspective, Staying Open

  1. What a beautiful picture and one we can realize very shortly. I noticed the daffodils starting to sprout, the buds appearing on the apple trees, and the birds returning. I remember Petula Clark singing “Downtown” on the radio when I was eight years old. I really loved that song.

    The situation all of us are in reminds me of a time many years ago (38) when I ventured into an AA meeting for the first time with an open heart and open mind. The first speaker spoke about getting through this time of struggle “one day at a time”. My ears perked up and my heart got lighter. Anyone can do anything “one day at a time”, I thought. Just the notion of it was flabbergasting. For someone who was living in the yesterdays of the past or worried about the endless tomorrows, this became one of the biggest gifts I’ve received in my lifetime. All I had to do was get through one 24-hour period in which 8 of those hours, I would be sleeping. That left 16 hours. It took a while to get the hang of because I kept finding my mind wandering into the past and the regrets would ruin the fragile calmness I was trying to maintain. When I thought of the future, fear and worry would take over. It took some time, but at some point I got it. Sometimes, I had to do it one moment at a time and I found those moments added up to days. To put it simply (as AA would say “Keep it Simple”), and please excuse my French, there isn’t a damn thing we can do about yesterday and we certainly don’t know what the hell is going to happen tomorrow. What I am trying to say is that the need to persevere is within us all, why not find joy in the little moments? The other phrase I heard was “This, too, shall pass”, and by the grace of God, this will, too. You certainly know how to provide food for thought and the walk down memory lane with Petula was so much fun to return to. What a wonderful way to pass time. Thank you.

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  2. You wrote, “I’m curious to see how I evolve in response to these big changes in life and routines.” I think that is the most wonderful place to be, for it ties together past, present, and future all into the NOW. Which is all we have and all we are.

    Just re-listened to “Downtown.” I love that song! Though it is poignantly sad at the moment. So interesting how context changes things. I’m grateful for YouTube and Vimeo that allows access to all kinds of music that I don’t own!

    You might like the poem I shared on Facebook yesterday (I’m reading a LOT of poetry to sustain myself…more than usual). It was included in Barbara Ras’s 1998 collection, Bite Every Sorrow, and I found it rather appropriate for these uncertain times:

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  3. Jazz,

    I just read some of Barbara Ras’s poetry that you shared. I can’t even come up with a word to describe how I felt reading it. Beautiful, certainly, but there is something so profound in the imagery she portrays that leave a sense of wistfulness. Perhaps, the way she mixes the past with the present. I found the line, “You can’t bring back the dead, but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands together as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful” especially uplifting but at the same time a sense of melancholy remains. This seems to connect with our host’s post where he writes, “and I need to remember to treasure the small and large expressions of beauty to be found everywhere”. I am sure I will be returning to these wonderful poems again and again to figure out just what they mean, but I am sure each time I return that meaning will change. Thank you for sharing.

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