Sunday, August 30 – Let Go and Count your Blessings!

By Dara Mac PEI, CANADA

All the violence, hatred, and negativity around us have taken a toll, and being in isolation makes it an even greater challenge to process. If I can’t share something hopeful and positive that might bring some good to others, then in my mind, there’s really no point. Hence, it’s been a few months since my last blog entry.

Pandemic. Senior. Retired. As I write those words, I think slow down, relax, take it easy, stress less, but my life has been just the opposite. New projects, heavy learning curves, family distances, sleepless nights, and inner drive would make you think a teenager is living inside me.

When I’ve not felt too stressed to play, drumming has kept me grounded, focused, and feeling like my life has meaning and purpose. Playing music has always been about expression and sharing, so many musicians’ tragic reality of having no gigs has not entered this equation. I have just wanted to drum like no one is listening, a next to impossible task, even living in rural PEI. So I followed various friends’ advice and began the project of creating a soundproof studio/guest house next to my house. A neighbor agreed to make the building (he was surprised to find that I am the drummer, and I was shocked that he could hear the drums a km down the road). After much research, stress, and investment, I had to abandon the project and admit defeat; begin anew at some future time with better planning and a more competent lead (I just don’t cut it). For me, this is just not a time to begin new projects; best to focus on supporting what already exists.

I have also been deeply concerned about my 90-year-old mother’s trials with her own isolation and apartment issues. Being 1200 km away, I spent a lot of time online researching options for her current living situation. After spending a few weeks at a hotel, mom had decided to go to the retirement home for a rest for one month where she would get her meals and have some social interaction. She spent 5 hours over the course of a few days standing in the 40 plus Ottawa heat to get the tests that were required – what a trooper! On the day she was to go in, the retirement home went into lockdown, with their first case of Covid19; she dodged a bullet! They have had six more cases since that time. She is now back in her apartment, settled in with her little cat, things are mostly repaired and back to normal, and fortunately, the stress of that situation has somewhat dissolved.

Here on PEI, things have really opened up over the summer, though with far less than the million and a half tourists we would usually see. The Atlantic Bubble has visitors crossing to and from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. My son and his wife were planning to spend a few weeks on PEI this summer as it’s been two years now since our last visit, but that has been postponed indefinitely. Focusing on the present moment and expressing gratitude are the most effective ways of coping with the physical distance. I see people all around who are also separated from their families by this invisible barrier that keeps us all 6 feet apart. I wondered what the connection was with burying people 6 feet under and learned that medical practitioners in 1655 thought that deceased plague victims could spread disease and that this practice would slow or stop the spread.

People can be seen at outdoor cafes, and I did get to go out with the three drummers I did a three-month weekly online zoom hang with. It was the first time that we had all met in person, and we closed the patio because when it comes to passion, music, and drumming, it’s challenging to end the discussion. What a fun hang and how fortunate I am to have such great people in my life that share the passion! One of the things that I’ve learned through this pandemic is who my friends are; they are not self-centered, egotistical, self-righteous, and entitled.

Living through this pandemic has taught me that I’m a much better indoor gardener than an outdoor one; I’m looking forward to getting back to microgreen growing. It’s also taught me that love is easy, it’s never far away, it’s in and all around me.

It’s given me practice at dealing with the entitled and shown me how easy it is to walk away. I’m letting go of what no longer serves me. I want to fly high like an eagle, where most dare not go – leaving fear and greed far behind in favor of joy and gratitude.

The pandemic and ensuing isolation have definitely impacted my life and mental health. In my former workplaces, it’s doubtless that my colleagues would have referred to me as somewhat ‘spacey,’ and if friendlier, perhaps, ‘artistic.’ But now, spacey has become the ‘new normal,’ feeling like I am a spirit having a human experience. In some ways, it makes permanence and impermanence more tolerable, and thinking of the pandemic and separation as impermanent inspires hope.