Survival Skill 1: Humor and Laughter
Have you ever noticed the inevitable appearance of outrageous stories and braying guffaws at funerals? It’s like a pressure valve being turned, not in a gradual motion, but in a quick crank from closed to wide open.
I have long considered humor and laughter to be a survival skill. Even my hair has decided to become a standup comedian during this difficult time.
This isn’t to say there aren’t tears. There are. But perhaps opposing feelings can be housed together, as long as both are allowed out for daily walks.
Survival Skill 2: Music, Song, and Dance
Having no one around to entertain with my hilarity, has forced me to uncover another panic relieving tool — music, song, and dance. Singing’s requirement to take deep breaths and the abandoned waving of arms is where the magic begins.
Survival Skill 3: Writing or Any Type of Daily Ritual
Writing has also been a mental health vehicle, lending a purpose to each day. During the month of May, I’ve been writing a short story a day. The prose poem, below, emerged from one of the prompts.
You may want to try this exercise yourself: Write a story in twenty-six sentences, beginning each sentence with a sequential letter of the alphabet, from A to Z. You’ll be surprised at what you come up with.
Survival Skill 4: Notice Bits of Ordinary Life Every Day
I pondered whether joking about anything as small as the irritation I’ve felt with my neighbor, which is what my prose poem is about, is okay when there are much bigger problems and grief out in the world.
Perhaps it is not only okay but necessary. It combines both the pressure relief of survival skill #1 – laughter, and survival skill #4:
To fight against being swallowed by worry and grief, my prescription of choice is to notice bits of ordinary life every day. We all sense this as we bake, organize our homes, garden, and take photos of flowers and pets. It grounds us.
No one know what the new normal will be, although there are plenty of people who are making predictions. And it appears there are plenty of people who are trying to force what they think life should be.
I think we need to forget the word normal — it’s never been a good word. I prefer ordinary, which varies from person-to-person and day-to-day. It’s anything that offers comfort during both good and difficult times.
So in whatever way suits you, please take care of yourself — physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Ode to Bad Neighbors
A hard week it has been
Bawdy bullshit I wade through
Calculated they are, their irritations gather and wait
Desperados moved in overnight… chain sawing people
Evolution overlooked them entirely
Frustration fills every molecule of the air
Garbage, La-Z-boy, and bureau, they throw onto their pyre
Hell and black ghosts drift through my window
Incense burn I to cleanse
Jamming my hands into earth
Kindred spirits, protect me, I pray
Ludicrous laughter wounds my plea as demons huddle near flames
Mark myself, says I, with this dirt and clay
Old or young
Pretty or putrid
Quick or slow, quash this heresy!
Rectify this injustice!
Strike back for trees felled solely for chainsaw glee
Time long treasures of shade and shelter no more
Under and above, right the wrongs that have been done!
Vow I to fight beside you
Wickedness shall no more cover our homes
Xena, Warrior Princes, I take up your sword and spear
Yellow dandelions I chain around my neck, stinging nettle seeds I spread in defense
Zephyr winds fill my lungs and right this world again!