Everything is hard right now. I can’t listen to the news for more than five minutes but if I don’t I’ll anxiously scroll through coronavirus reports on my phone. I briefly found solace in burying myself in work, but my novel edits are done for the moment and my new dissertation pages are off to my advisor. There’s a part of me that whispers that I could keep writing new dissertation pages, but the simple fact remains that that particular brand of writing will not bring me joy right now.
Everyone is a ball of tension and anxiety right now, and who wouldn’t be? It’s manifesting itself differently in everybody but we’re all living through something formerly unimaginable.
(At least to some people. I guess now is as good a time as ever to tell people to go read the Parable duology by Octavia Butler….)
My coping has been to write, as I’ve mentioned, but to write something joyful and funny that doesn’t require so much heady work as my dissertation. I’ve been enjoying spending some time each day in a new world, dreaming up new characters and gags and plot points and new settings, letting it come alive to me.
It’s worth mentioning that I haven’t posted much here on BGDGS in the past couple of weeks. Even though normally this is a space I retreat into, my blog posts have been routinely formulaic over the years, where I introduce a challenge, how I’m managing it and an optimistic look to finish line. But in this moment, I lack a lot of optimism and I can’t/won’t feign it for a blog post. So, though writing has been a help, it hasn’t been writing here.
Yoga has been a life saver also. It took a few tries to find a space in my house where I wouldn’t be interrupted by small, easily excited dogs or loud moms (I’m weathering the pandemic at my parents’), but I eventually found a slightly too small space in front of my parents’ closet, that’s out of the way enough that I won’t be disturbed for 45 minutes to an hour. It’s not the perfect peace of a studio, but I’ll take what I can get. I have a friend who offers virtual yoga classes, so I’ve done one with her, but the wellness center at my institution is now offering virtual classes and recorded ones, which I have been attending this past week.
But my favorite new coping mechanism has been searching for four leaf clovers out in the yard. A few days ago, I was outside walking Genghis, enjoying the glorious sunshine when it occurred to me to lean down and admire the clover patches in our front yard. Moments later, I had found a misshapen four leaf clover, but a four leaf clover nonetheless. For a moment, I was a joyful kid again, wrapped in sunshine, holding a good luck charm between my fingers, letting it soothe my soul.
The next day I found another one. That was when I started to think the clovers were trying to tell me something. How often do you find a four leaf clover, let alone two in as many days?
On the third day, I went outside and found another; on the fourth, another. Actually, on the fourth day I found three in all, because when I went back outside later that afternoon ,they were along the route Genghis and I walked.
Over the course of the days in which I looked for the four leaf clovers, I realized I was beginning to look forward to spending a few minutes outside, not thinking about anything besides the gentle excitement and joy of finding something out in nature. It was something to look forward to, that got me out of the house for a few minutes and that occupied my mind. Then, when I found one, I would proudly show my parents, who were increasingly stunned that I was finding them so easily, and gently wrap them in wax paper to place under my stack of books. The whole process from start to finish probably took no more than ten minutes, but in just a few days, it became my favorite ten minutes of the day.
I was happy when I came back from my mini quests that my dad, who hates to be left out and who had also never found a four leaf clover before in his whole life, decided he wanted to try to find one, too. He promised me he wouldn’t look more than a few moments and I encouraged this, because I felt that if you looked too long, you wouldn’t find one. And not ten seconds later, he found one.
He went back inside, giddy with his find, and I continued my search for a few moments longer. I thought perhaps I had transferred whatever little magic I had found to him because I came up short.
But when I went back outside that afternoon, I decided to look again, and this time, my seventh clover, I found something even more astonishing: a five leaf clover.
My five leaf clover looked as though it had formerly been two three leaf clovers that had grown too close together, but nevertheless, I had somehow found a clover that had five leaves on its one stem.
After carefully wrapping my find in wax paper and putting it away with the others, I started to think about the significance of the clovers I had been finding. I am a person who believes in good omens and signs. I tend to believe that important things begin to happen in small ways, and you would be smart to pay attention to them. In addition to the recent influx of clovers, I have also seen at least three cardinals early in the morning, which my dad had once informed me were angels. My palm has been itching, a sign usually thought to indicate incoming money (sometimes, depending on who you’re speaking with, the hand that itches is significant also). And I’ve even caught 11:11 on my clock a few times.
So yes, I’ve lost so important opportunities recently: I won’t be teaching at DHSI this summer and the summer program I’ve been a part of for three years has been cancelled, but maybe something bigger and much better is on the way.
Four leaf clovers are lucky, but I think five leaf clovers are even luckier. And the five leaf clover happened to be my seventh find? Seven, the number of completion and perfection? I think some major strides are in the works for me.
I’m going to keep listening and watching, and write about any news along the way.