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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Barker

The COVID-19 Diaries: Finding Who We Are Without the Comfort of Our Routines

Contributed by Sarah Sage Benedict

Do you feel like you wake up, think the same thoughts, put on the same clothes, drive to work the same way, work for 8-10 hours, come home, have the same conversations and go to bed?

I feel like that a lot. I love my job and I love my life – and sometimes I don’t know if the routine is running me or I’m running the routine.

There’s a particular moment in Spongebob Squarepants that I remember seeing as a kid – and it runs through my mind frequently.

In February, the world felt like constant hustling, grinding, and shining at a back-breaking pace and at the same time, I often felt stuck in the drift.

Then in March, COVID-19 dislodged all the ‘stuck’, all the routine. Everyone had to come out of autopilot to deal with something that we had never dealt with before. We came into another world. There’s an undeniable mystery and magic to the changing patterns. It’s a reminder that we are not – and have never been -- in control.

I’m nearly complete with a 10-month yoga teacher training. I’m so grateful to have the foundation and tools to handle change, go with the flow, move my body, connect to the earth and look for the answers within. I don’t know how I would be able to handle any of this without those tools.

Since this began, I’ve been focused on dropping resistance to change, going with the flow, staying grounded and trusting the process. Meditation and yoga have been instrumental in keeping mentally sound.

Fear, struggle and loss. And still… an undercurrent of a world focused on family, community and mental, physical, emotional, self-care.

We have a gorgeous neighborhood that I’ve walked more times in the last two weeks than in the last four years. I’ve been able to stop and breathe. There is SO much uncertainty… but if I’m focused on that or the anxiety, I’m missing an opportunity in the moment.

I recognize that there is a lot of suffering happening today, those of us who were already the most vulnerable and exposed are hurting more than ever. We have to see them now – because we are also them now. We will be them. I hope that this time shines a spotlight on the need for unemployment benefits, social programs, lunch programs, and the arts.

This period of time is so challenging and I hope it brings a deep understanding and compassion.

I have the incredible privilege of having a work-from-home capable role, a home, a supportive family. I feel guilty to say that I’ve FaceTime-d with friends across the country and called more family than I ever did before. COVID-19 was a really backward way of giving me permission to reach out to people and tell them I love them. I’ve also been cooking more – I met my mail lady. I’ve seen my husband more in the last month than in our whole 10-year relationship.

I’m learning that these roles that I perform at work and in my community are all so important… but now that I’m home, and still myself, it’s so much easier to see that they are just roles.

It leaves a lot of space to ask, who am I?

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