Chaotic but Cathartic

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

11 June 2020

When the pandemic started, I was a nervous wreck. I couldn’t see my behaviors for what they were in that moment. But in hindsight, I’m able to reflect. I was worried if my family, my children, or I would become ill. I was worried about how many people would die. I was worried about my children’s schoolwork, the ability of our business to continue to be fruitful, and perhaps, most of all, time-management. I was worried about when it would end and how it would feel when it did.

The pandemic forced me into isolation. When I was alone, I learned to use that time to be content in the present and to home in on my self-preservation skills. I could’ve used the time to continue my anxious streak. I could’ve been worried about the past or the future, but I chose to be as content as possible in the present. Pre-pandemic, I often forced myself to be busy and overly productive, which led me to miss out on things as simple as quality time with my loved ones. After the first few weeks, I was ready for whatever came next.

“The middle is messy, but it’s where the magic happens.” – Brené Brown

I had no idea what was coming next. None of us does. We’re once again full of fear and unrest. But this is the magic: I’ve had my time to reflect. And now it’s time for practicing what I’ve discovered. I’m committed to expanding my ability to stay calm during the storm. I’m learning that I need to educate myself more because I don’t have all the answers. I’m ready to listen more. I may not be able to heal the world, but I’m learning that I can heal myself.

As Mr. Antolini says while speaking to Holden Caufield in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, “Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score … Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to.”

Reflect, Don’t Reject

I took myself on a date early this week. While I was sitting with the sun shining on my back and overlooking a beautifully manicured golf course, I was drawn inward. I was reminded of how far I’ve come since the beginning of the isolation. I’ve been able to sort out the things that are important to me and the things that I must surrender to. I’ve given up on controlling things I cannot. And I’ve learned to use my voice more loudly and proudly.

I think many of us have used this time to grow. I think we’ve determined the things worth fighting for. I think we’ve aligned with our inner voices. It all comes back to me. It comes back to us. We need to remember to be content in the present, no matter how messy. This is the magic part. 

What happens next? I don’t know. But I’m glad to be here to experience it.