Friday, September 18, 2020

Moving worlds when facing the unknown

“Our consciousness and that of future generations has been changed. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle.”

—Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, from the Center for Action and Contemplation

This past weekend I was sent a meditation to read. Basically, the words describe that uncomfortable place in life where you move from one world to another. Sometimes it’s when a loved one dies or when you lose a job. It is scary and hard and also can be extremely valuable. Few of us enjoy being in that space. It can be painful. But in hindsight, it also presents opportunity to reflect, to learn, to change. For whatever reason, the Universe has put all of us in that place with this COVID-19 cluster. Described as “liminal space” the old world is behind us and the new world ahead is full of unknowns. There is a lot less control when you are in the liminal space—and that can be absolutely terrifying.

People are not wrong to be afraid of what comes next. What will it hold? The answer is: No one knows.

Will more of our friends die from the COVID-19 or just as bad, catch this virus and be hobbled for months with no energy, thoughts of dying, struggling with physical ailments like not being able to take a breath or waking up in sweaty chills?

Will our friends and neighbors who own businesses be able to continue with their passion? Will this virus prevent the community from going back to the way it was when Elk Avenue was shoulder-to-shoulder with people enjoying flowers and sunshine in July? No one knows. Will our kids be able to sit in a classroom again with friends or are they sentenced to screens in the living room? Not knowing how you will eventually pay the mortgage, how your kid will learn math or if you will be able to make and sell food for friends, second homeowners and tourists that allow you a Crested Butte life is scary.

When stressed about one’s health or being able to make a living and feed your family, striking out in anger, frustration and fear is understandable. That is part of the challenge of this strange time. It is not easy.

As has often been stated lately, there is a need for grace. There is a need to be constructive and forgiving and empathetic. That is meant for everyone here in the community. Real attempts at understanding all the concerns and fear is necessary for when we move from the old world to the new and we can leave this damn uncomfortable liminal space that shakes our core.

Right now, there is so much unknown—like everything. What will summer look like? Will any tourists want to come to the former hot zone if restrictions are loosened or will we be flooded with people anxious to be somewhere nice where they can be outside?

Despite their projected timelines, the county does not know what will happen in August, let alone next month. Did anyone envision a pizza place becoming a fruit and vegetable market? Did you really already have a mild case of the virus or was that late March cough just the typical lingering Crested Butte crud? If you have antibodies, are you immune? Will an effective vaccine be produced in 2020? 2021? Will the ski area open this year? What about the schools? Will that person constantly sitting next to you on the couch finally take a shower?

No one really knows and that is a source of incredible angst.

I do know the angst is real and most business owners are probably not getting much sleep, and their anxiety is reasonable. I do know some second homeowners, especially those here when the shutdown began, were unnecessarily offended. I do know the county people are working their butts off to figure out how to get this place open in a way that will be safe for both residents and visitors. It is, after all, imperative that when we do reopen we are able to honestly tell people this is a safe place to come. I do know that despite outcries to the contrary, Gunnison County’s restrictions are in line compared to other counties given our circumstances and we are not far behind the fabled Eagle County that everyone thinks is hosting major sporting events (but isn’t). I do know if we all follow the distancing and hygiene guidelines we will be back to “normal” (whatever that means) quicker than if we rush and the virus spreads and people start getting sick again and filling the hospital beds. I do know this lockdown cannot last forever.

And more than anything, I know if we come together as a community of locals, second homeowners and tourists we will be better off in the long run. Division is counterproductive.

The meditation I was given mentions, “It takes time but this experience can help us reenter the world with freedom and new, creative approaches to life.” Let us hope so.

Let us hope.

—Mark Reaman

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