Pandemic Lesson #1: Flexibility

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

What have you had to be flexible about this year?  What has this taught you?

It’s not that we cannot make plans anymore.  It’s that we must be willing and able to change them, quickly and effectively, if we want to actually get anything done.  Move all primary care and primary/secondary education online?  Done.  Stop flying?  Okay.  Come back to work and school?  Sure.  Wait no, outbreak, go home again, please?  Fine.  Postpone big vacation 3…6 months… indefinitely…  *sigh*…we can deal.

Many of my patients are actually thriving in the new work from home normal.  Without the constant travel, jetlag, business dinners (the quadruple threat to acid reflux:  late, fatty, large, and full of alcohol), and long commutes, they sleep more and better, spend more time with family, exercise more, and eat healthier.  If all goes well, my executive health job may be obsolete in the next decade, hallelujah! 

Not everybody’s doing well, of course.  60% of the workforce still shows up in person; risk, stress, and burnout are very real, and escalating.  The people who are well are those with choice.  They are the privileged ones.

Most of us still don’t know how the new work life balance will look in the coming years, but we hope to retain and expand the flexibility that has given us some sense of agency and control.  Check out this episode of Hidden Brain to hear a Stanford work from home researcher on implications of this augmented world for all of us. 

What flexibility do you wish for in 2021?

Agency and control in the midst of a global pandemic—how ironic!  Pandemic lesson #2 may be Paradox and Polarities… The last 2020 NaBlo…  Wait for it…

Unity Across Difference

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

Tonight we pray for the injured Northwestern Wildcat football player.

What place has prayer in sports?  I don’t take a position here; I’m wondering. 

NU played Michigan State today.  Two players collided head on.  The Wildcat went down and did not get up.  The medical team attended immediately and Hubs saw the C-collar come out, never a good sign.  After several more minutes, it appeared the whole team gathered on the field in a still, vigilant scrum.  Heads bowed, hands grasped shoulders.  They’re praying, I realized. 

For better or worse, my first reaction was to wonder if that was okay with everybody on the team.   Do you think it was for better, or for worse?  Why?  Why do I even wonder about the distinction?  I assign it as neither (or both)—I choose simply to observe it, hold it with curiosity and not judgment.  I may entertain various stories about it, perhaps accepting all somewhat and none fully.

A second later I felt reassured, even inspired.  I don’t know anything about NU Football team culture.  I choose the story, however, that it’s the kind in which anyone asked to gather and express solidarity with a fallen teammate does so without hesitation.  “I will pray for your healing,” and, “Please pray for me,” said earnestly by a faithful player to an atheist one, can be received as an expression of caring and a request for support, respectively, rather than impositions of one’s beliefs on the other.  We bow our heads and grasp each other’s shoulders to show reverence and cohesion.  When one of us is hurt, traumatized, or otherwise suffering, it shouldn’t matter what religion we practice or not. 

We help however we know how.  Because we are a team.

Focus, Balance, and Power

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

Trying a new format below—a little stream of consciousness inner learning this Thanksgiving… Grateful for much, including small epiphanal gifts of the unfocused mindstate. Hope you all connected well today.

The Discovery

While doing TRX burpees today, I learned again how purposeful visual focus maintains balance.

In the shower, I appreciated how simply closing my eyes seals them against the sting of soap—amazing!

All hail the random genius of evolution:  Every function selected for its highest purpose… but is this really true?

Eyes open or closed, what is the difference?

Sensory integration holds us up

To balance well on one leg:  Plant whole foot on terra firma.  Sense the connections: toes–midfoot–heel–calf–knee–quad/ham–hip flexor/glute–paraspinals/abs–parascapulars–trapezius–neck—head–crown skyward:  One solid chain of simultaneous proprioception.  How strong and stable, as if elongating one’s own core could pull earth to sun.

But with eyes closed, instability immediately ensues. 

I’m forced to lean heavily on internal body cues, but I’m not well-enough attuned.

…What else do we take for granted?

…What calls us to attend now, before we lose our balance when stakes are high?

Presence

What all is happening here, now? 

Do I really see, am I truly present?

Be here.  Finish this task.

Have patience.

Maintain focus.

Practice determined, mindful, inner balance by closing the eyes sometimes.

Sharpen the other senses.

Training activates strength.

Strength, especially the inner kind, affords power—not power over, rather loving power, the ability to effect positive change.

Focus upholds balance.  Balance, properly trained, yields power.

I’ll keep meditating on this.

What do you think?