I had the chance today, for the first time in nearly two months, to spend the whole day outside my home, helping friends implement much-needed measures for their businesses to reopen in due time.
While the group of people was fairly small (five of us), it felt huge. While the tasks I was given to perform were minimal, they registered as onerous. While the time spent with them was brief, I reacted as if I had been on a backpacking trip on a mountain peak.
I came home and collapsed on the couch, too exhausted to even turn the TV on to relax and be lazy.
My mind, to top it all, felt like mush. Everything I had done up to that point from the safety and coziness of my home appeared as foreign to me as a hardware manual for a jumbo jet engine.
What happened? I even wondered aloud.
How could one day—ONE DAY—make such a difference in the way I saw and perceived things?
After all, staying inside for so long had not felt that long at all: instead of going OUT, I had gone IN. IN as per INSIDE, deep inside where one is forced to go when there is no other choice.
Me, my thoughts and I. That had been the last two month’s play inside my home.
For weeks I had developed an intimate relationship with myself, one that had pleasantly surprised me.
Once a fierce fan of restaurants, I had started to cook delicious meals at home, and had envisioned future visits to restaurants only once or twice a month.
Happy to dress up and put make up on first thing in the morning, I had cherished my day spent in yoga clothes. Fervent acolyte of work-out routines, I had taken barre, weight lifting and yoga classes all day long in rotation mode on-line.
I missed nothing, I had all that I wanted at my fingertips, including a loving–albeit a bit snobbish–Japanese breed female cat.
The best of it all? I felt connected to a part of me that had been dormant: That part that consciously chooses to create something instead of mere reacting to what happens.
Today I fell back into my old, unconscious ways of living: someone else set the goals, the plans had been made (by men, as it is still, and unfortunately, the case in Italy), and I followed the instructions somewhat apathetically, grateful and yet aware of my under-the-surface resentment that showed up as confusion and fatigue at the end of the day.
A few hours have passed since, and I have had time to reflect on it. And do you want to know something shocking? I have concluded that this time at home had been the best thing that could have happened to me (people who know me will probably not believe it but it’s true).
Thanks to this time I have discovered who I am underneath: Someone with many ideas and desires to create something different from the status quo. Someone who has access to more than a body to dress up or a face to make up. Someone who has finally experienced self-love and learned the meaning of true intimacy.
The positive aspects of this nasty and unexpected virus have been for me discovering a part of my Self that has asked me to look away from the superficial and sense-driven pleasures and to search instead for meaningful accomplishments, to slow down my actions, to refrain from using others for my sake, to listen, not just hear, the pleas and the needs of others.
Up to recently I rushed from one thing to the next, oblivious of the messy and chaotic trails I left behind, and was to some degree someone who paid little attention to the deep and intricate meaning of life, to my detriment as I now see it.
Today I experienced fear, fear of of losing myself to that world again, where the authentic me would be once again swept away by the noise and the technology and the spending frenzy and the money-making mania.
Today I did not want that anymore. I wanted my peace, my slow pace, my intimate connection to that part of me who could, thanks to the slower pace, understand and enjoy the meaning of life around me.
What will happen for the world at large is yet to be seen.
But one thing is certain: This period has shown me that there are other ways, even more fulfilling, of living life. This time at home has been the lost key to my locked heart: A heart that is not going to disappear or hide under the coverup of inertia and mere reactivity ever again.