In this edition of Sober Chronicles, floating with the ‘paradigm shift.’
by Marc Lee Shannon
I’ll admit that I am a little out of whack. Out of phase. Not sure what’s happening lately to me.
My pre-COVID-19 routine is now a faint sense of something, like a daydream or a grainy 8-millimeter home movie. It’s like a yearbook or a box of photos on the top shelf of the bedroom closet, and although I see that person I used to be, I don’t quite recognize or connect. Now everything is so very changed, so different, and I have the nagging feeling that what I used to know is never going to be the same. My premonition is that what was my pre-pandemic normal-ish, kinda cool life… is gone.
Six weeks ago, I would wake up early and start the day in my house with a quiet meditation vibe. Set the scene with soft low lights, a candle or some incense from my travels in Japan all those years ago. There would be sounds of Zen music from Amazon Music on the too-large rectangular dream-giver in my living room and a dog at the back door. With the predicative constant like the ringing of a 6 am daily alarm, my best friend’s nose would be in the crack of the door jamb, tail wagging and morning intention clearly set. Like mine.
I used to love to turn on the morning local news with my first ultra-strong coffee with stevia and soy vanilla creamer. Yesterday I sat on my bed with a bitter-tasting instant blend, black. That guy with the furniture warehouse commercials is driving me nuts. I don’t care about the lowest prices, guaranteed. Also, I don’t want a new freaking car. Even if you will personally deliver it and with the deepest of caring for my concern, delay the payments for several months.
I don’t want to be blindly led to the endless cycle of consumerism and consumption that seems to be the message every morning. Every commercial that wants to sell me something feels so out of place in my world. Have they seen my checkbook? Why are companies still using the same approach to sell their stuff? Really? All I want to know is if or when it will rain today and when I can escape for my daily salvation and respite of sanity: The daily walk.
Taking a deep breath and a pause to reflect, I’m thinking back to my time in the corporate arena. Years ago there was a popular phrase used in the business team-building community:
Paradigm shift. “An important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way,” according to Webster.
That’s pretty much the deal around my pad, my life, my whole world.
There is a voice inside my head that says I need to get it together and get going. “Don’t you know that you need to get off your arse and get busy making your keep? You need to make money, man. This is pretty serious! And, by the way, you haven’t been connecting with your sober community. You are out of your old routine and that could be dangerous, right? You could be in trouble here, man…” WTF?
Deep exhale. OK, I’m better.
In the first days after the shutdown, I ran across this thought and pondered the meaning during my morning reflections and reading:
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” — Eckhart Tolle
In other words, stop resisting, dummy.
You cannot swim upstream during this global health crisis that has derailed everyone’s life. You cannot put on your red and blue Superman t-shirt and leap tall buildings and fix this. Your only option right now is to be pushed on by the flow of the fast-moving stream. Just float. Do not resist. Change has happened, and you and your ego, your pride and your desire to rescue the world, the universe and the City of Cuyahoga Falls are powerless. You must live in this moment. Take every opportunity to help ease the suffering of the souls that happen to wander across your path. But do not resist.
I want this to be over! But I am not in charge here. I need to stop whining and go with the flow. Get out of my poopy diaper and get moving. Ride along with the natural flow of this pandemic and let it work itself out.
What can I do?
I can exercise and socialize. My saving grace. Walking in my neighborhood and smiling and waving to strangers is uplifting. People are actually having eye contact and saying hello. Wow. Also, yoga… yes, yoga.
I can eat healthy food. I have been following a restricted-calorie diet and really paying attention to the stuff that goes into my body. Cheat days, of course! But on the whole, I do feel better. Self-care. What a concept.
I can breathe emotionally. This break has allowed me some really great solitude and reflection time. I think that will be something that will stay in my routine on a larger scale. I can get to the books, magazines, and studies that I have been putting off for some time.
I can create. Manna for the soul and my way of making a living. My income has to come from new places. Streaming, teaching online, a new idea for a podcast, selling things that are laying around.
I can connect. Use the ultra-modern communication tools and touch a part of my past. I have been reaching out to people that are back there a bit. Maybe even a few years. It’s a trip… and again, this will stay a part of the new normal, I hope.
In the end, even if I’m not doing so well some days, I want to go on record and say that I am holding steady. This historical, once-in-a-generation event will have a beginning, middle and end. I know this. All of this will work out if I can just face the wind, stop resisting and let it blow me where it will. Do the work and let the results happen. But the first step has to be to resist resisting.
I do hope that the rest of you are holding out, hanging on and holding fast to the knowledge that we will get through this and be together again. To my loved ones, friends, band or music-mates and recovery family, I miss you and my heart aches for you. But until we can be in each other’s presence, find some comfort and flow with the changes. Resisting won’t change anything.
And of course, as always, stay standing.
Reach Marc Lee Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Angelo Merendino. Used with permission from Marc Lee Shannon.
Editor’s note: Marc Lee Shannon holds the trademark to “Sober Chronicles.”