Of late I’ve heard myself calling the coronavirus pandemic the tempest. That is, the storm.
And images have come to me about riding out a storm in a great ship. Of course I realized I was thinking of Noah’s ark. What a great metaphor!
Other than the whole world coming to an end thing (and doesn’t it feel like that sometimes, right now?), it’s not really terrible. Storms are fun and romantic. Great ships are fun and romantic. There’s a voyage. There’s adventure and suspense. There’s creaking wood and a bottle of rum.
I walk around on the industrial-grade carpeting at work, my first full-time job in four years, necessitated by this pandemic crushing my hard-earned business. It’s an utter upheaval from my life on the road, speaking at colleges, staying in motels, unfolding a map and pointing to a spot and just going there, for however long, with my dog and my laptop until it’s time for the next “stage.” I feel so confined, with this schedule, not being able to pick up and go, not having anywhere to go even, having gone months sleeping in my own bed. INDOORS. No passport stamps, no whimsically accepted invitations. It’s an utter upheavel of my hard-earned leeway to better manage my chronic conditions. I feel confined more by the chronic fatigue, the halting pain, the lagging brain, triggers and flares by the “new normal.” The extreme summer heat is confinement, too. No hikes. No porch. And if I go anywhere at all, it’s usually behind a mask, in the company of people who can’t smile and won’t hug.
But as I walk around on that gray carpet, in this strange confined space, I repeat in my mind, “I’m on a ship.”
I can almost feel the waters rocking me.
I’m confined in this vessel, but I’m safe, dry, and I’m still going somewhere, because, you know, I’m on a boat.
And you know how Noah brought on two of every animal, so he could repopulate the world? Well, I’ve got “animals” too. They are my writing, my speaking, my business, my faith, my purpose, my plans. They are the novel I’ve had to pause at because I’m too busy, but I’ve got its pieces. They are the bicycle I just repaired that I want to ride more but not quite yet because of the heat and fatigue, and yeah, too busy. They are the aim to get my dog to her 44th state, which will be Michigan, and a dream of 4 more after that. They are my resilience and my resolve. All these things I’ve brought aboard with me, and even though they are pent up and stuffed into stalls, my animals are alive, and I’m feeding them via character profiles and short articles and emails to past clients, stroking them via daydreams and determination, keeping them ready to release back into the wild, after the storm.
What is your tempest? Is it this pandemic? It might be a lost job, a lost love, a lost step. It might be a flare up of your illness. It might be a flare up of life. I know you can’t be out tackling the whole world right now, building your castles, fortunes, and dreams. You’re stuck on a boat in a storm.
Just load it it up with what matters. What you’ll need afterwards. What are your “animals?” What do you want to have ready to go when the storm passes?
Don’t blame yourself for the storm. Don’t blame yourself for what you can’t do. Take shelter. Rest.
Feed your animals.
And when your tempest has passed, disembark and go rebuild your world.