I’m coming to terms with the fact that my Covid release is lagging far behind that of my friends and neighbors. Most people I know have gone back to their business as usual lives, sometimes wearing masks for certain activities, but largely letting go of pandemic precautions. Even those who have been infected with it once, or those who are at high risk because of immune deficiencies or other conditions, have extended their activities out in the world far beyond my comfort zone. As a result, many people I know who avoided infection during the first two years have gotten sick in the past few months. Most of them have been vaccinated and boosted, and have gotten so-called mild cases, though quite a few of them were sick for weeks even so, and many have lingering long-covid effects from low-energy to brain fog and skeletomuscular aches and pains.
This creates some complicated emotions in me, and I’m slowly sorting those out. I’m grateful that I enjoy solitude, and have many years of practice choosing it over extroverted engagements, so being alone comes naturally to me. And all the causes and conditions in my life preceding the pandemic led to me being well set up to survive and indulge my penchant for solitude, in this beautiful homestead sanctuary, with plenty of community support. I’m grateful for all of this.
And I find myself bristling or cringing–judging or twinging with envy–when I hear the extent to which the few people I trust are safe enough for me to be around are in fact regularly exposing themselves to potential infection from Covid or even just colds or flu. I’m grateful that (except for that possible food poisoning a couple weeks ago) I have not been sick since the pandemic began. That tells me that masking when I must go out, and as much solitude as I’m able, are healthy for me. I can accept the choices of my friends and neighbors, and choose my own exposure to them accordingly. I’m grateful for this equanimity and wisdom, but it’s getting harder to hold onto as the ‘business as usual’ paradigm becomes a widespread new normal, and I start to question and judge my self-protective instincts. Complicated emotions.
I’m grateful that the network of interdependent co-arising that over decades and perhaps lifetimes has woven the safety net I live in right now holds me within a comfortable illusion of security. I’m grateful, too, that I know nothing lasts forever. This allows me to make the most of the precious, beautiful moments of each day, without fretting about what comes next. I’m a different person than I was five or 25 years ago; I was always seeking this sense of peace and contentment, and mindfulness practice has allowed it to arise and stabilize in me to a great extent, no matter the external circumstances.