Dusting off your instinct.

WHAT A STRANGE and unsettling time we’re in, suffering the coronavirus pandemic. Two months of self-isolation and at least we can say we have managed to master the mechanics the situation: living separate, working from home, properly logging in to Zoom. We’ve found ways to love well, give well, pray well, and we’ve done it in the midst of a reality that was previously unimaginable.

So now I would like to make this pronouncement, which I suggest we make official.

I am worn and weary from the effort, I’ll tell you that. I am sick of using good energy simply to cope. My heart longs for connection, to be encircled, to be reinvigorated by the good that passes one to another when we human beings collect. Not virtual contact (although I remain grateful for this) but real, live, in-person, huggable, eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul connection.

Maybe there is hope on a far distant horizon. States are reopening and businesses are trying their best to figure how to operate in an uncharted Phase Two world. Still the truth is these decisions carry with them even greater risk than we’ve already faced, something that seems impossible. We are entering into a time that, to me, feels more burdensome and breath-stealing than ever. And so I worry and wonder, and my spirit constricts again.


THERE IS A VIDEO taking the world by storm, The Great Realisation. (If you have not seen it, please take four minutes to watch it.) The Great Realisation is a bedtime story made by a young English poet in which there’s a look back at 2020 as the start of a changed way of living. (Hindsight is 2020, you know.) The piece is gentle and lovely and hopeful, and as I watched, a line took hold that will not release.

But while we all were hidden, and amidst the fear, people dusted off their instincts. They remembered how to smile.

It’s a beautiful and insightful concept, dusting off instincts, returning to behaviors so central they are born in, they live within, they provide for our very survival. Instincts don’t just offer fulfillment, the poet suggests, they are fulfillment, and thus they offer the path to joy–pure, uncomplicated, and childlike.

And so I consider. The novelty of the pandemic is gone, and as hard realities stretch into the future so far they cannot be predicted, can I lean on instinct to walk through the slog that is ahead?

What has been my instinct, anyway?


IT IS THERE, of course, as I look back over my #stayhome days. And the answer surprises me because it is not what I would have expected. It has not been writing, it has not been photographing these beautiful mountains, it has not been cooking or walking or even being in nature.

No. In isolation, in all this anxious turmoil, my instinct has been to make.

And I know why: I am a maker at heart. I was, as a girl, my hands always busy with whatever happened to be the project of the day: a tiny book of poetry from typing paper and a stapler; construction paper and colorful markers then, voila, greeting cards; a set of Barbie clothes (with poncho) from an old piece of fabric.

All of which is to say, in recent days, I have been at my most content when I was making.

a new project, a quilt

What has been your instinct? Can you name it, lean into it, lean on it as we move through these next slog months? Can you recognize and honor its significance? Can you let it offer joy–no expectation, no judgement–but just a return to the welcoming of sweet, simple joy, however your tender heart defines it.

It’s the only way we’ll make it through, that’s what I believe.

It’s how I’ll keep my own heart happy, of that I am certain.


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