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Last time I wrote about walking but, things are changing quickly, so I’m not really walking anymore. I want to, but it seems like no matter what time I go outside — well, at least in the light of day — there are people everywhere. When runners pass by me (always too close!) I find myself holding my breath. I mean, people are literally dying from respiratory failure right now so I’m not trying to not breathe. What this means is that I’m now mostly staying inside my apartment, trying not to add to the number of people out on the street, trying to do my part to avoid bringing this city and province to a situation where a lockdown is enforced.
But I’m also not walking because I realized that it’s one (of many) ways in which my need for control is showing up. You know, I really thought I was good because I’m not thinking about next week, or spending much time worrying about money (there’s a difference between thinking about things and worrying about them!), or wondering what’ll happen ‘when this is all over.’ I’m okay with taking things one day at a time.
And still. Control, for me, shows up in things like the walks, which definitely make me feel good and grounded, but is also a routine that I’d developed prior to isolation. Resisting change. And not just change to my daily schedule but the elaborate rituals I’ve set up around my body and weight — walks always made me feel as though I had that ‘under control.’ Control also shows up for me with drinking. I love to drink wine. Oh my god, I love it so much!!!!!! 🍷🍷 🍷 🍷 But when I drink a couple-few glasses of wine every night because I tell myself, hey, you’re allowed to cope how you want, and then the next day I get agitated, insecure, restless, unfocused, listless — I realize that perhaps the wine itself is triggering the need to cope.
Control comes via connecting, in terms of method and frequency. I love speaking to my family and friends; I love to FaceTime with my grandma, who is turning 90 in June and is doing well. I like doing videotext karaoke with my friends (today it was “Cranes in the Sky” and we all ended up crying). I love watching my baby nephew grow up. And I want to do the right thing by being available for people. But I hate seeing the people I love solely through a device, and I really don’t care what random people with high follower counts are doing, and I am actually not bored enough to learn how to use TikTok — and I think I’ve been connecting for the sake of connecting. I forget that I use social media and constant contact to mitigate my own vulnerabilities around feeling unseen.
Please, do what you will! I’m not trying to be sanctimonious here — only accountable. Four weeks ago I thought I had this. I thought I had the meditation skills, the emotional resillience methods, the mindfulness, the cheffin,’ the routine, work-life balance, backlog of books, and prediliction for solitude to ride it all out, unperturbed. And although I didn’t spiral out in the ways I might have a couple of years ago, I still found myself challenged: emotionally wound up, militant about the damn walks, chastising myself for baking, clocking in for those nightly glasses of wine. Nobody has got this. Without getting all “fEaR iS thE viRuS,” it’s absolutely fine that the entire world is scared right now — how naive, how counter to my spiritual beliefs, to think that I’m somehow separate!
Just wanted to share this for anyone who might be working on themselves, in whatever capacity, right now: the need for control is a survival mechanism that’s very human, but it brings a lot of shit with it, a lot of old shit, a lot of useless shit, a lot of shit that keeps you (me, me, me!) stuck in one place. And the thing about coping, about control, is that it can totally be useful in a crisis — except for the fact when I stop to think about it, the things I’m trying to control don’t align with my present values, which are infinitely more expansive. These are the habits of a younger person, a much more contracted and fearful person, someone who didn’t realize what she had and just how strong she is.
I only have one real antidote to all of this, which is that you make yourself a cup of something hot to drink and listen to “Thoughts Around Tea,” by Kadhja Bonet from her perfect, perfect 2018 album, Childqueen. You might want to bookend it with “Undressed It Solitude” by Badge Époque Ensemble featuring the mesmerizing James Baley and “I Can’t Stand It” by Maylee Todd.
Lots of love,
There are two new episodes of Burn Out for your listening pleasure. I REALLY LOVE THEM BOTH! Featuring:
Casey MQ: Co-founder of the extremely popping Club Quarantine, and wunderkind collaborator of some of Toronto’s best musicians
Backxwash: A self-proclaimed ‘witch rapper’ from Lusaka-via-Montreal, who makes music inspired by the spirituality of DMX and her tribal ancestry.