Chaos and Calm As Dance Partners

I am the storm. And I am the calm before, during, and after it, too.

Since I was a little kid, I have always been easily excitable. I am also able to remain extremely calm amidst chaos. When work gets crazy and stressful, it somehow activates a switch in me – I sink in deeper, my vision focuses even more, and I handle things quickly. When my body and mind were stressed out backpacking, I forced myself to take deep breaths and march onward. When the adrenaline was surging during my first olympic weightlifting competition, I… well, that first lift was wild, but after that, I honed in on myself and was able to channel all that excess energy.

The world in COVID-19 right now can feel like absolute chaos. We have no idea what will come next, even with all our fancy mathematical projections and data from other countries/cities. Many hospitals are getting absolutely slammed. Many other hospitals are experiencing an eerie quietness, a calm before the storm that we assume is coming sometime soon. People, governments, and systems are swinging wildly between calm and chaos.

This world reminds me of the time two years ago when I going through my first broken heart. Right after the break up happened, I actually went straight to work for a night shift, and then flew to Italy after I clocked out in the morning. (It was a trip that was already planned, but kind of cool that I get to say this!) I was lovingly held by some incredible women in a stunning place with delicious food. (One of those ladies is going to become my sister-in-law this fall, and I could NOT be more ecstatic!!!) I was dazed and confused initially, much like how I didn’t quite know what to make of coronavirus at first. While I appreciated the relationship and authentic love that I got to witness, the pain of heartbreak was hitting hard. I would soothe myself to sleep and get a good night’s rest. Come morning time, I would wake up refreshed, and reality would suddenly SLAP me in the face – it’s like I forgot the break up happened. I would think, “Oh yeah… I didn’t dream it. That DID happen. THIS is my world now. When will this stop hurting?!” I eventually healed and grew to genuinely become my own best friend. I am grateful that I had that life experience and went through that rite-of-passage. I made it out alive as a stronger and better person.

I’m noticing that a similar sensation is happening through this coronavirus era. I soothe myself to sleep and pass out hard from exhaustion. I wake up excited for the day, and then I get SLAPPED in the face – I think, “Did ONE virus REALLY shut down the ENTIRE WORLD?! I know people are doing their part, and I’m doing my part at the hospital and at home as well… but is this TRULY what reality is right now?! When and how will this end? When will this BE OVER?” I eventually get out of bed and move through my day. I know how my broken heart eventually resolved and healed. I do not yet know how this situation is going to resolve itself; I do not yet know how the world is going to be healed. I know that at the end of this process, we will come out of this as stronger and better people. Something inside tells me that we are going to get through this by dancing with both calm and chaos.

I’m sharing this photo because I felt so calm and peaceful in it. (And because I REALLY miss wearing all of my outdoor adventure gear. And I miss my long braids. I’ll get to rock both of them again in due time.) I was in Maui with my high school friends. Our group was trying to mobilize to get to our next destination. They were taking a while and I just decided, “*UCK IT.” There was no point in rushing them, and we’d get to where we needed to go. So on that very humid day, feeling grateful for the sun protection principles my brother taught me, I plopped myself down in the shade. I sat atop that tall hill at the lavender farm and just took in the moment. I looked upon the fluffy white clouds, the luscious green mountains, and the dazzling blue ocean. My friend snapped this photo, and it’s honestly one of my favorites of myself, because it completely captures how I felt in that moment: there may have been chaos around me, but I was able to bring my own calm to the storm.

I do not know how COVID-19 will continue to unfold. I do not know when the eerie calm at work will come to a halting end. I DO know that I can activate my energy to stay prepared and vigilant for when the time comes. I DO know that we can stir up our own storm and fight it with our collective might. I DO know that we can cultivate our own calm within this situation, and share it with others when the storm becomes too much for them.

There is a beautiful dance constantly happening between movement and stillness, chaos and calm, energy and peace. These spectra are always present – before the storm, during the storm, and after the storm. May we tenderly hold each other as we dance along these lines together. And may we lovingly hold ourselves as we unleash the calm AND the storm within us individually.

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