When our kids were very young, my husband and I decided to purchase a little sailboat and create a new family activity that we hoped would meet all of our needs. Neither of us grew up sailing, but my husband had sailed with a friend and felt confident with owning a boat. I was not a strong swimmer, but we were hopeful that the learning curve would not be steep, and that soon we would be enjoying lazy weekend afternoons on the water. We were so optimistic. I don't have a lot of memories of the few outings during that summer with our boat, but I do remember the last one. It was a breezy Saturday afternoon and the sky was full of perfect, puffy clouds - a beautiful day. Once aboard, the wind picked up and we were quickly carried into the middle of the lake. I remember the fear rise within me and felt immediate betrayal as this tiny unfamiliar vessel threatened to harm my family. I tried to grasp anything that felt stable and strong in my immediate vicinity. My 6 year old son had the opposite reaction. He and my daughter were both strong swimmers, but for him, this experience was a far cry from swimming, and he decided that it would be best to resolve his discomfort by trying to jump overboard. In his mind, it was far more rational (and less scary) to be tossed about in the middle of the lake rather than endure the unpredictable behavior of the boat. My husband, the new sailor with limited experience in rough waters, was also scared and felt the full responsibility for the safety of his little crew as he held the tiller.
Psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach presented a powerful talk online this week about how to work with our fear during the COVID-19 pandemic. She reminds us that fear is completely natural; an intelligent part of the human experience that tells us to take care. She says that the emotion of fear prepares us for what to do, in order to tend to ourselves and those we love.
On that little boat many years ago, I recall how each of us responded to our fear in such different ways, all in an attempt to take care - of ourselves and each other. And we did.
We are all learning to sail in uncharted waters at this unprecedented time. May we name this unease without judgment, and hold it now with compassion and awareness as we take care of ourselves and each other.
May you be well.
As I transition to online telehealth, I will be working on ways to stay connected via this blog. I will post videos and links and will be sharing them here. I have found Thought Field Therapy to be very helpful in managing anxiety and depression and I have taught this tapping technique to many clients over the years. Here are a few short videos that I have recorded that you can watch.