I understand that we’re all dealing with the COVID-19 fallout differently. I know that people are tired of being shut in. I shouldn’t expect peace and quiet living in a densely populated urban neighborhood. But lately I’ve realized … I fear the WORLD OF ONE.
When people play their music super loud, or refuse to wear a mask in a store, or ride up and down Lark Street on dirtbikes and ATVs running red lights and doing wheelies, I have a visceral, fight or flight reaction. That worries me - the constant flooding of my body with cortisol. I know it takes a toll, just not sure how or when that toll will manifest. When my husband says, "why do you let it bother you, just don't listen!" Is that a thing? Because saying "just don't listen" to me is like saying "just don't breathe." Not an option.
I realize that many communities are dealing with motorcycles and fireworks - and loud, booming bass on cars. My husband said, "I like to listen to my music loud, but never that loud," and I said, "THAT'S BECAUSE *THAT LOUD* WASN'T EVEN INVENTED IN THE 80s!" I'll admit to getting old and cranky, but advanced audio tech has made it possible to play music at ear-shattering, solar plexus hammering levels. Why? For whom was that created? I guess that's part of my worry ... this need to be *exceptional* - to "share" your music, use the speakerphone while waiting for the bus, drink a beer in the middle of Lark Street - without any consideration for the rest of the people on the planet.
And then I read an article that used the term “toxic individualism” – and thought – THAT’S IT! Where has our sense of the collective good, of altruism gone? In my small way, through my clients, I feel that I am working for a more just world. This is a historic moment, and we’re all experiencing it differently. I understand that I’m experiencing it from a place of great privilege, and that the things that irritate me are just that, irritants - not actual threats to my life.
Speaking of historic moments, I’ve been looking forward to watching the Hamilton movie and signed up for a month of Disney+. (You know, to see what a Broadway musical could teach us about fighting oppression???) A few days ago, I got sucked down the rabbit hole of watching President Obama introduce the cast performance of Hamilton at the White House. Remembering how wise, and generous, and kind a President could be.
So, I need to keep focused on finding joy where I can and try to manage stress and commit to taking better care of myself. It's not enough to just get through whatever comes in the next few months. I don't think it's going to be pretty. We must be strong enough on the other side to #BuildBackBetter.
Colleen M. Ryan is an