It is early morning on the Nayarit coast. The night crickets are giving way to morning bird calls and I am smiling remembering the evening of several tables of expats together on the beach with several hundered strangers watching the sunset.
Since I’ve just arrived people who haven’t seen me a while are grabbing on and squeezing tight. One woman I haven’t seen in five years, we embrace and laugh almost crying with the joy of direct contact. Another man looks at me, half decides to abstain from all touching, gets a big smile and announces, you are worth it!
I am at ease and calm after travels through airports mostly empty. The hysterical have stayed home leaving the fellow travelers with whom I sit turned from tvs, deep in meditation, breathing and assured looks go out from one person to another. The general consensus in San Diego during this lay over is, “I’m ok, you’re ok, we are all ok.”
I’m relaying this to a colleague who is asking how travel day went. “Amazing ,“ I say. “No lines!” As is my nature, I’m generally laugy and jokey (Especially at inappropriate times, a trait I share with my mom, who when anxious makes even more jokes.) and am in the midst of describing the San Diego airport when a guest deep in panic over returning home decides to lend an ear. I am unaware of this and continue by saying the only three people who didn’t seem ok were the only three people in masks.
While the rest of us were being comforted by the “we are in this together” feeling of community, the mask wearers appeared furtive, fear seemingly spiking off their every standing hair, high alert, separate, fast paced, eyes wide. I am finishing my observation with “to the rest of us, they appeared strange,” when suddenly angry and obviously a bit quivery with her own fear the guest jumps in.
Though she’s been in Mexico for a week and this is not her observation, she decides it is her duty to reinform me via her internet scrambles.
With respect and calmness both my colleague and I get quiet and nod. We turn into “oh yesers” and “ok there are demographic more at risk” and, this is the point...the guest has a history of lung issues and a compromised immune system. Empathetic ally I tell her, “yes, my father is in protective mode with my mother who is a cancer survivor and has a history of bronchitis.” We all nod. Now that she has set us straight she is calmish and returns to her table.
My friend and I take a big sigh. We don’t need to say anything. It isn’t the first time Americans arrive and leave the ocean side amidst information they’ve received from Facebook sharings and relations pinned to hours of news with PTSD symptoms. Fear and mass hysteria make Americans the most furtive group I work with, one of the many reasons I haven’t owned a tv since college and I quit social media for years at a time.
Uninformed might be one way of seeing me or, from my point of view, highly attuned to my surroundings as things are unfolding in the moment. Present with what actually is not what is feared will be coming. Willing to hold conversation with people who have varying viewpoints and when confronted by important information I go look it up, not on social media but from varying sources of information. Somewhere in between us usually the truth.
As a high school teacher, I taught units on mass hysteria and the methodology over which government gains control over the psyche and collective consent of its people for its “protection.” Supposedly we study history to not repeat it. I see us fall into so many patterns it’s mind blowing. Deconstruction of the populace especially through dehumanizing methods, highly emotional speeches with small snippets of facts, and a populace who shares information without checking sources and who forget not all sources are benign.
The remedy to mass hysteria is higher order thinking skills, use of observation and connection to your own state of being.
Hysteria is characterized by fast breath, wide eyes, fast heartbeat, the typical fight or flight responses of body and racing mind. The danger of hysteria is exactly in those two responses. Like the woman ready to fight me for having my own experience and observation not based on media and fear, the every man for himself survival mentality clear out the paper products at every store stock pile close your doors board the windows is the most dangerous of human animal behavior there is.
At this time I would caution people against being angry at people for not being afraid because it seems to me informed people are actually hysterical with their information and seem to have a feeling that if you are calm it’s because you don’t understand.
What if I do understand? What if I’ve already made choices and am willing to remain human under all sets and conditions?
About a week ago, I was sick for 8 days. I slept. I hadn’t been sick in five years. I have an incredible immune system. I nettied 6 times a day with gse, cedar and tea tree salts. Saunaed for an hour twice a day. Drank whiskey hot totties to break congestion in my chest , drank gse along with on gaurd DoTerra and laid down. Radical self-care. I can honestly say it was the stillest I have been in years. Deep sleep. One day I woke up and it had all cleared.
I don’t watch news and only rejoined social
media that week out of boredom. What was it? I don’t know. Just a regular episode not like the one threatening.
I haven’t been to a doctor in 20 years ever since I got tired of being run around with symptoms no one could explain until an MRI revealed a brain tumor which I self cured through a year long walk about, restarting my endocrine system with stem cells and renewed faith in our bodies incredible healing mechanisms.
Alan Watts described these processes of immunology as the chaos of our cells warring at a higher level of order to put things back into balance and make us stronger. He says at some level human beings are like this on our planet and that at a higher level order we are balancing the Universe. Is it true? At least it’s another way of looking at things.
As for people who are angry at the simple suggestion of hand washing, the World Health Organization has a myth busting section available for people who want to douse their bodies with alchohol, raise their body temperatures by sitting in hot baths and flee to warmer climates, no it calmly reiterates...wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
Other health professionals suggest sweating to keep fresh blood and oxygen flowing, fresh nature air (In other words, don’t lock yourself in your house and curl into a ball.)
For those people who are sharing info like Facebook is their second job, remember you will always find proof of whatever it is you believe to be true and, as an ex-teacher who failed at trying to explain this to students (maybe adults will understand it better) checking sources is the most important thing you can do for yourself, let alone others. Try generating information (Like walk outside. Look around and say here is what life is like around me.) rather than blindly sharing everything that sparks your little heart. Finally ask questions, lots of them.
And, for your own wellbeing, fill that little heart with courage and swell it through memories of loved ones. Don’t forget together is the most powerful state of human beings and, while being cautious, remember we are in the process of evolution and adaptation which involves change. Change is uncomfortable, sometimes we feel like primordial goo.
I can’t help but remember when my friends sons were around 7, now about 10-11 years ago. A pandemonium broke out at school because there was an outbreak. The school called and my friend was, as any good mother can be when the safety of child is at stake, in a state of panic. She was racing back and forth, couldn’t remember what she was doing, couldn’t find her keys and I was standing calmly in the center of the room. “Hey,” I kept saying. “What’s the matter?” Between short sentences I was gathering what the call was and, finally, I grabbed hold of her by the arms and got her eyes to stop wobbling so that her pupils went back to normal and her breath steadied. “Friend, what outbreak?” She took a deep breath, “chicken pox.” I smiled at her and pointed to the couple of scars on my face. “Friend, we all had them when we were young. Remember?” Her eyes blinked several times. She took a deep breath. “Oh yeah.”
Yeah. Steady eyes. Yeah.
The great large majority will be ok even if exposed. I just wonder if maybe in our state of informing and “lovingly” trying to protect each other, if we can also remember to hold each other close and quell the panic. Aware, conscientious, and lovingly supportively calm.
This shall pass. Decide who you will be on the other side of fear. And ask how we will return to normal from pandemonium?
What will be my work this season I ask myself?
It is my job to touch people. Perhaps people will cancel flights, avoid others or maybe something amazing will happen and we will come together, closer because the ones we love are worth holding near and continue to appreciate the beauty of the world unfolding around us day by day because we understand they are gifts and nothing is guaranteed.