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The Chaos in Stillness

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

I went for a walk today. In this mind numbing exercise of social distancing...erm... I mean physical distancing, I find myself not fully comprehending the gravity of our situation.

When you’re addicted to productivity, the abrupt shift into prolonged rest comes with some withdrawals.

When you’re severely addicted, it comes with severe withdrawals.

In this unprecedented time, I’m thinking about my friend’s Facebook status, his feeling of anxiety as this voluntary isolation is reflective of the early days of the Syrian Civil War. I started reading his book today; it’s been on my shelf for some time.

I’m thinking about how stupid I was to go out on Saturday night – a final bastion against the reality of our circumstances. I won’t be going out for a long while.

I’m thinking about world leaders in isolation.

I’m thinking about lost jobs and precarious finances. I’m thinking about artists and servers and gig workers - my tribe - who are feeling the isolation and financial loss like punishment for taking on the taken-for-granted labors of our societies. Should we expect our savings to evaporate? Do we have savings to begin with? Keep us in mind when you’re asking the server for a refill on your water or listening to your favorite song at the gym. Keep us in mind on the other side of this.

I'm thinking about cancelled theatre shows and months of labor and love vanishing into thin air. That was always our end game and as theatre artists, we know and celebrate, better than most, the fleeting experience of our craft. Perhaps even of our lives. Our shows live on inside of us - they always have.

I’m thinking about how I’m replacing my addiction to productivity with an intensified addiction to social media. On the one hand: thank God for social media! On the other: I didn’t know I could scroll for that many hours at a time.

Right now, I’m really thinking about my parents. The most vulnerable in age, health, and class in this crisis. My mom works at a mall. She can’t afford to stay home. I’m depending on everyone else to stay home.

I’m thinking how our species' siloed acts of solitude are the most collective gesture we have performed in my lifetime – perhaps ever.

We are addicts of consumption. And Mother Nature is reminding us what she’s capable of. I’m thinking that for the first time a hundred or more years, our arrogant little species has found stillness, and the Earth can, finally, exhale.

Clear canals freeing the fish below and pollution cleansed in the air above. She’s exhaling.

I’m thinking about the lives lost. Today, nature comes for our elders. If we don’t heed this call, tomorrow, she comes for our children.

Let us learn from this Chaos.

Let us learn rest, let us learn stillness, let us lay bare the ornamentation of our social constructs and do away with those that harm us. Let us learn that we are as inseparable from the trees and forests as we are from one another.

Let us learn that we are inseparable from one another.

Let us recognize that my breath, here, today, is your oxygen, there, tomorrow. The radical individualism of feudal capitalism is collapsing.

I’m thinking about how this will be a memory in a month’s time. I’m hoping that this will be a memory in a month’s time.

I’m sitting and waiting and writing because I don’t know what else to do.

I see celebrations of song and dance over digital shields and across oceans. I see hope, radical hope, radical unity, radical collaboration, radical love.

The streets are quiet but suddenly our souls are rioting. Isn't that what Rumi told us? Isn't that what Jesus told us? The Buddha? Still your bodies, your souls have something to say.

To hearken Khalil Gibran's The Prophet: Yes, the rudder is my reason, the sails are my passion, and the ship is my body. But it turns out, his greater message was that if I loosen my sails, and release the grip on my rudder, and I sit still in my body, I find that the ocean has currents of its own.

Let us learn from this Chaos.

I see posts telling me to write, to create, to do.

But right now, maybe we just need to realign with the seismic shift in energy we are experiencing.

But I feel good writing.

So, I’m sitting and waiting and writing.

Soon I’ll be sitting and waiting.

Eventually, I will just be sitting.

No waiting, no writing.

Just sitting.

And right there, in that eerie hush and listless calm, we find each other.

Right there: in stillness.

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