How are you feeling? Somebody asked me that this morning and I stopped to think. How do I feel? Confused, was the first word that came to mind. Unmotivated, uncreative. I want to do practical things: painting, sanding, repairing, mending, constructing. I can’t write. I feel I should be writing wise words, stimulating stories, inspirational anecdotes; I should be supporting, sustaining, sympathising. But I can’t.
After listening to me, my friend said my words had helped her to understand her feelings. She thinks many people feel like this: overwhelmed perhaps and pushed towards the practical, the tangible, the doable, where results, like clean laundry or a newly constructed wooden planter, can be seen. Taking some permitted exercise yesterday and keeping the stipulated distance away from my partner, we noticed how tidy and neat gardens are looking at the moment. Maybe others are feeling the same way: seeking refuge in the routine tasks that show positive results and leave a sense of accomplishment.
Here in mainland Europe, schools and other educational institutions have been closed for at least a week, only essential shops are open and social isolation is in force. Elsewhere in the world this situation has been in place for much longer. From my window I saw a dad wandering aimlessly alongside his young daughter. He looked lost. A mum and a daughter were walking their dog – a purposeful task. A woman was out walking – alone. A man was out walking – alone.
How are young people feeling? For many the euphoria of no more classes may be beginning to wear off. Daily contact with mates is now only online or by voice. Siblings are thrown together for the foreseeable future and single children are stuck with the grown-ups and have no physical connection to their peers.
What do young people need now? What do we all need now? Inner strength, a sense of meaning and purpose. We need to remind ourselves what is important to us; we need to get back in touch with our values. We need to take time to reflect: to use stillness, to listen, to share stories, to celebrate what we do have and to grieve for what we have lost, to vision and to keep a journal. As my friend said this morning, what kept Anne Frank going when she was socially isolated? Her diary. Our journals may never be as famous as hers but they can help.
“This too shall pass.” Yes, but more will come its way and we can help ourselves and others develop what we need to engage actively with whatever the future holds for us.
We have made some of our tried-and-tested V&V resources available to you to help you through. We will add to these as time goes on. Use them and enable yourself and those you are supporting to find meaning and purpose in this volatile world.
How are you feeling now? Better for having written this!