I stopped by the office today to ship some boxes and as I was driving home from work- I was suddenly overcome with a wave of sadness. The roads were empty like a ghost town, it was raining and grey - and I felt sad. For me, it was a surprising feeling. As one who practices mindfulness, I got curious about this feeling and explored the depths, thoughts, emotions- all of it. Not getting caught up in the sadness, but open heartedly welcoming it, acknowledging its presence, and wondering what it had to say. Sadness told me this: "I miss connecting with people". It reminded me of the fundamental human need for connection in ways that virtual connection could not meet: physical touch, sense of community through activities, hugs, physical presence- things we often take for granted. And as much as I see communities make efforts to maintain human connection through virtual meditation yoga classes, virtual dance parties, etc (which I am super grateful for) it's just not the same- and that made me sad. And then I was reminded that this is temporary [all things are impermanent] and that [this too shall pass]. During this time of isolation, I am reminded to be flexible not rigid. The visual that comes to my mind is a forest of tall trees. The trees that are rigid and inflexible are the first to break during high winds. Yet the trees that are flexible and sway with the wind survive the storm. Chapter 76 of the Tao Te Ching puts it so eloquently:
The living are soft and yielding; the dead are rigid and stiff. Living plants are flexible and tender; the dead are brittle and dry.
Those who are stiff and rigid are the disciples of death. Those who are soft and yielding are the disciples of life.
The rigid and stiff will be broken. The soft and yielding will overcome.
Translation by: J H McDonald
So, I decided to be soft and yielding, flexible, and tender- swaying with the winds of uncertainty during this storm. I anchored myself in hope that "this is temporary and this too shall pass". And then just like that the sadness passed.