Princess Bride is my favorite movie, hands down. It’s got love, hate, heroes, villains and the Fire Swamp, a place that feels a whole lot like our current situation. In the Fire Swamp there are serious threats (giant rats, lightning bolts and quicksand) that are so scary, few have made it through and lived to tell the tale. But Wesley and Buttercup find a way through the Fire Swamp, by helping each other.
I’ve had my own Fire Swamp the last couple of weeks that has seriously curtailed my mojo. I’ve been scared and seriously sad, the opposite of my normal energizer bunny leadership style. And I’m a trained professional who helps people through trauma! So, please give yourself a break if you’ve been feeling the same way.
This Fire Swamp is as real as we make it. I believe the best thing we can do right now is to take back our power through compassion. This might involve small acts of kindness like calling old friends, or your mom to tell her you love her. This might look like going through the grocery store with compassion. If there’s a mom with three kids that’s reaching for the same package of TP, and you’re purchasing for yourself and your cat Felix, purr-haps the best choice is to give the frazzled Mom the toilet paper and a smile. Also, WHY TOILET PAPER? This virus affects the opposite end of the body! Let’s give away what we don’t really need and restore another person’s faith in humanity.
To give selflessly, no matter how small the act, takes back your power. It’s like giving the big middle finger to fear, and that small act of rebellion against the tide of anxiety that surrounds us right now can create an ever-widening circle of calm. It’s really the only thing we can control right now.
Being compassionate to others, and to yourself, brings you back into the present moment. From that perspective you can decide what you really need, right here, right now, and seek only that. None of us need to stockpile for an uncertain future. This is not the zombie apocalypse! When we are drawn into that fear based thinking, we create an apocalypse in our soul and stop acting like human beings. We leave compassion outside and turn our homes, and lives, into a wasteland of fear.
Social distancing is a physical requirement; there is no need to distance our souls from each other. Compassion commands us to snuggle our hearts together, even as our bodies are separated.
Lookit, we are all human and humans like drama. The media counts on drama for ratings. Network execs know that we are all at home watching television, so the drama of the situation creates a ratings bonanza. But we don’t HAVE to play along. We CAN turn off the TV and go play with our kids, making mudpies, taking a walk or coloring. Then we can check back at the end of the day to update ourselves. We can allow a little peace and harmony back into our lives, and our whole universe will become less Fire Swamp and more Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.
What has been your best way to stay sane while on lockdown? Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will put them on Facebook to help others.