SELF WORTH: Floundering or Flourishing?
Do we need to just chill? Allow ourselves to go ahead and sleep in, to relax for once? Or do we need to take advantage of these extra hours every day and aim to create something wonderful? Or do we do both? Are there really enough hours in the day to relax and chill, then fulfill some new to-do-list? And if there are suddenly so many hours in each day (without a 40-hour work week), why does time just fly by like never before? What the hell is going on?
Most everyone has been forced to erase whatever personal, financial, health & fitness, or travel goals they had made at the onset of 2020. Bam. Gone. ME: Won’t be traveling, won’t be paying off my credit cards, won’t be going to yoga, and won’t be prepping students for shows. Now what?
Let’s see. The goals that I have set for myself have all vanished, so how do I gauge if I’m being my best self? I’ve lost the benchmarks in my life that made me feel like, well, me.
Clunking around in the kitchen has its perks, but mostly I’m just gaining weight and making a mess. Maybe I should get a puppy.
I may not have the flu, but Covid19 has infected my paradigm of self-hood. My self-identity.
Even my family can’t come around to give me purpose.
I’m on my own.
How am I supposed to measure my worth? I have almost nothing to trace my value anymore now that all the rules have changed. We don’t know what will come of this crisis, and while I’m the glass-half-full type, I suspect that things may never be the same. I used to teach for hours every day, offer my expert advice to my students, lecture at the college, share my income with my family, charities, purchase gifts. I do none of that now. Zero. It’s though I’m stuck in emotional concrete. I feel I’ve lost my agency. I don’t know who I am or who I am to become. I can’t even keep my mind focused while fighting the doldrums underneath the dark clouds, and the rain is making me gloomy.
What can I do? Well, for now, nothing. I must wait it out. We all must wait it out.
So, waiting is offering me a chance to learn how NOT to DO.
If you yourself are a doer, then you’ll know how you totally pride yourself in being a capable, can-do person. Then this whole waiting game becomes an even bigger lesson in the art of not-doing. Which can translate into a great big lesson in BEING. BEING, not DOING.
But I’ve always DONE! I always had to DO the kids, and students, and billing, and church, and house-keeping. BEING wasn’t an actual luxury; it was never even on the table.
Well, at this point I cannot measure my worth by my productivity. Or my Creativity. Or my friendships, parenting moments, students’ improvement, money made, or social interactions.
Since there’s nothing I can DO, what are the things I can BE?
What does BEING even mean?
After all, I’m already a human who’s BEing because I’m a human being.
The experts on YouTube suggest that I center myself every day. Just sit down. Meet ME. Give myself permission to BE. So, I start to practice that, every day. But secretly I hope to contribute mentally, prayerfully, and attitudinally, to the collective since that’s all I CAN do.
Whoops, I keep making it about DOING.
Okay, I sit criss-cross applesauce again, I invite myself to just BE, but I can’t help it, I gather all of my energy and focus it into my brothers and sisters across the world. My brush with meditation is not making me feel very good about myself. I’m not well-rehearsed in the BEING thing.
When I greet myself on the yoga mat, I simply can’t separate myself from others. Being in quarantine has taught most all of us how much we want to be together. So, I pray, visualize, and meditate on what matters most: world peace, feeding the hungry and unity. For once in my life, I have plenty of time to light a candle for the oppressed, for the afflicted, for the lost.
Maybe my self-worth is inextricable from the value of all humans on this planet. It sure feels that way. Maybe we all flounder a little more when we’re alone, and maybe we all flail a bit when we’re cut off from our usual activities–without which, we only have each other
I am not in isolation, there on the yoga mat, even if I’m the only one physically sitting there. The corona virus is reminding me, is reminding all of us, at we are a part of something greater than our individual selves. Just look at the news footage from all across the entire world–note the face masks uniting us in fashion, as well as our fears, our hopes. We are all rethinking our identities, personally and societally. In unison. For the first time ever in the history of the world.We BE-long to the human race, which means we are the property of one another. Implied in the origin of the word is an ownership, a possession of sorts. The other word that keeps coming to my mind is a word I learned during my studies in Creativity. The Zulu word for human is UBUNTU which means “I am because we are.”
Perhaps, embedded in their language is the essentiality of BEING.
Judging by the collective pause, the universal breath this Spring of 2020, it is befitting that we accept our belongingness, as it is and always has been.
We have no choice in the matter.
And then, flourish, as a species, we will.