From my daily journal, March 30, 2020:
Spring came early this year and if ever there was a month that wanted to be a dad joke, it was March. It really did march in like a lion—triggering unparalleled fear, anxiety, stress, misinformation, pandemonium, noise and a quiet I didn’t even know I longed for until I got it. Like how you don’t even realize HOW much stress you’re under until it’s gone and your adrenal system hits the emergency exit and whoosh! you’re beyond exhausted.
As a repeat trauma survivor and someone that operates efficiently in crisis mode, that “whoosh” isn’t new to me and I know to anticipate it. And I see a future where we will all share more trauma—much like we’re sharing the trauma of today. For many, or maybe even most, we won’t realize this until we’re on the other side. We’re still in the trauma experience: unable to pause, detach, unpack and process. For some, we may feel we’ve reached a calm, only for that calm to be disturbed by the anticipation of the storm to come. Anyone who’s read The Road knows this lesson far too well.
If I could finish the proverb “In like a lion, out like a…”, I’d love to say that spring will leave like a gentle, newborn lamb—a hopeful new beginning, an optimism of what we can rebuild together. Even in writing it out, my face softens into a hint of a smile, my shoulders relax and my chest lightens. Ancient religious texts, which have survived several pandemics and plagues, also warn us that lambs are sacrificial. Should our spring march in like a lion and out like a lamb, it could be the sacrificial remains of our loved ones, hated ones, forgotten ones, hopeful ones … so many ones they became millions. And we wouldn’t have been able to mourn them as we’re accustomed. Just as we’re no longer allowed to hold the hands of our mothers bringing in new life, we will not have been allowed to hold the hands of those leaving our shared existence.
Still, I know we will survive, just as we’ve survived for hundreds of thousands of years (and more if we count in our evolutionary ancestors). We may feel like we’ve lost all control, yet we still have control over our individual behaviors, choices and reactions. When life starts, or continues, to feel overwhelming and out of control, try thinking that what comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb—and align your behaviors around the version of lamb you’d prefer to see in the next season.