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It has been a challenge to write this post. To be fair, it has been a challenge to do almost anything these days. I don’t feel much like writing—I just don’t have the energy. How can I write about my mood when I can barely even manage it? It’s all over the goddamn place, oscillating between hopelessness and hope, despair and calm, heartbreak and joy. I’m trying my best to ride the wave but man, it’s exhausting.
These are challenging times and whether I like it or not, I’m learning so much. This is what happens when we live through intensity, right? It changes us. In the Yoga Sutras, tapas, or the process of purification through heat, is an essential component of practice. My favorite definition comes from my friend Jenny Aurthur: “Tapas is the willingness to endure intensity in the name of self-transformation.” For the record, I’m not that willing but, in this case, what choice do I have?
Life in quarantine is a pressure cooker. I’m experiencing expedited learning thanks to a rapid disintegration of normalcy. Grief, fear, and anxiety are breaking me down, but there’s also the matter of living with myself in isolation. I’m forced to face my patterns in a way I never have before and it’s a lot. I would love for someone or something to let a little steam out of this pot, but it’s clear that’s not gonna happen any time soon. This is our new reality. I’ll just be sitting here stewing away, watching myself reduce into something yet unknown.
One of the more obvious themes emerging from my experience in quarantine is the irony of comfort. Here I am, safe at home. We eat pancakes on Sunday mornings. I bought a new shade for an old lamp that’s been sitting in our basement. Oh, and a cake plate I’ve had my eye on forever because I thought it would be nice to display all the banana bread I’ve been baking. Chloé makes tea for her stuffed animals. She’s growing right before our eyes and getting this time with her is priceless. Despite the unfathomable reality happening right outside our windows, there are moments of genuine contentment. Let me be clear: I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. Quarantine with a toddler is its own kind of crazy and there are days when I feel like I’m drowning, but I’m (mostly) okay. I’m comfortable. I recognize the privilege of my experience—that I have the space, means, and opportunity to contemplate the unfolding of my life when so many are suffering.
The irony of my comfort is how uncomfortable I actually feel—not just because of the collective heartbreak or the overall sense of impending doom, but because I no longer feel comfortable in my comfort zone. When I think about the lengths I’ve gone to over the years to avoid the discomfort of change, it’s almost comical. I guess deep down I felt it was just safer to stick with what I knew. And it’s not like life in my comfort zone has been a bed of roses—I’ve suffered because of my avoidance and inaction. I can see clearly now just how much my penchant for comfort has limited my perception of what’s possible for my life.
I’m also learning the value of intensity. In fact, accepting all of the changes that have happened beyond my control has empowered me to address the things I can actually control. This extraordinarily difficult time is forcing me out of my comfort zone. I can’t keep doing things the way I’ve always done them even though that’s my default. Whether it’s partnering with my beloved or mothering my child or, let’s be real, just trying to make a living, I’ve had to learn how to apply pressure and the right amount of intensity to unburden myself from the patterns that have confined me to what I know. This work is hard, but it continues to show me that growth truly does happen outside our comfort zone, whether we’re willing or not.