Copyright Deer and Coyote 2021 | All Rights Reserved.
Do not squander this gift.
There is a part of me that has lacked a bit of compassion during this new physically isolating world and I'm trying to work on that part of myself.
As soon as Danny and I began to realize we were being asked to separate ourselves from the world around us, we almost effortlessly flipped a switch in our brains and went back to being ‘Tower People’. And I suddenly realized that this has been an incredible tool in these current times! However, many of you have not experienced the incredible GIFT that isolation can bring and therefore are feeling scared of this glorious unknown.
So for compassions sake, I am digging into my past self and remembering the feeling I felt the first time I was dropped off via helicopter to a very remote Lookout Tower in the middle of the boreal forest. I was 21 and left alone for four and a half months. I had this incredible sinking feeling of abandonment. I literally wandered around feeling scared for days. For the first month, as the evening would approach and it would get dark, I would close all my curtains and lock the cabin door and then sit in the middle of the cabin floor. Every little noise felt super creepy and somehow physically heavy.
Until one day. I suddenly had this very loud thought, “What the hell are you doing Chanda?” There truly was NO ONE AROUND! And if someone hiked in from the nearest tiny little settlement (which was a 20 minute helicopter ride) to my tower there was NOTHING I could do about it. It sounds so cliche, but there was a beautiful voice telling me to face the quiet and the darkness and the fear of myself.
So my first baby step was to purposefully leave all my curtains open. As the sun would set I would turn off my generator (there was no grid), which turned off all lights and blow out any candles and slowly begin to allow my eyes to adjust. And I began to realize the darkness was actually not that scary. And I am not making some cheesy analogy here. It just was true that the darkness was made SO MUCH darker when I turned on a bunch of lights, turned up the music and tried to avoid it. When I had my first tower experience there was no such thing as FB. I had no internet connection and no cellphone. I had a radio and a landline to connect to the outer world. And I still remember this time with such a deep affection that it brings instant tears to my eyes.
Once I got through my first month of isolation, I could count on one hand the times I felt lonely. And without sounding cliche, all my senses heightened. My hearing became very sensitive. I distinctly remember coming back to the city after this time and being so overwhelmed by people playing music in their cars SO LOUDLY!
So why am I writing all this? Haha! Your guess is as good as mine?! I don’t really know.
I guess I wanted to send some encouragement to all of you out there facing the unknown world of physically distancing. And yes, I am well aware that many of you are not ‘isolated’ alone and are in fact stuck at home with demanding little (and big) people. However, the principles are the still the same.
Do not squander this gift.
This time will pass. It will. It just will. I have experienced 6 different seasons of isolation (either alone or with Danny) ranging from 4.5 months to 7 months in length. And all of them at times felt endlesssssss. And yet… ended.
So stop worrying about the ‘when’ and start digging deep into yourself. Face the part of you that has been afraid of the quiet. Afraid of missing out on something. Afraid to lose control (which you didn’t have anyways). Afraid of your kids. Afraid of being vulnerable with your partner. Afraid of the dark.
I wonder how many of us are going to realize that we had already made an unspoken agreement with ourselves, our families and our spouses of distance. And now instead of that distance we have actually been gifted real connection.
Do not squander this gift.
When you are on the other side of it all, don’t find yourself with regret that you somehow managed to waste even a forced time of reconnecting. I am not talking about having to produce or make or DO ANYTHING in particular. But connect for real. Don’t stand on the other side of this with regret for spending too much time on fricken social media somehow trying to soothe what you thought was a fear of isolation. But in actuality is a fear of connection.
With your family. With your partner. With yourself.
I have been mulling over this quote by Viktor Frankl for days and days and I just can’t seem to shake it. He is talking about a very different experience than ours. He is talking about the horrors of concentration camps. But I just can’t stop thinking about it:
“But what about human liberty? Is there no spiritual freedom in regard to behavior and reaction to any given surroundings? … Most important, do the prisoners’ reactions to the singular world of the concentration camp prove that man cannot escape the influences of his surroundings? Does man have no choice of action in the face of such circumstances?
We can answer these questions from experience as well as on principle. The experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of action… Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress…
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."
**Photo (right) credit to
Ashlee Rioux from French Press Photography*