Prior to The Pause, I was numb and had little sense of meaning in my life and felt no calling or purpose for being. Those concepts had become stagnant, if not dormant or foreign to me.
That sounds like a dark existence doesn’t it? This was my unhealthy. The numbness should have been something I was aware of occurring (and maybe I did, on a higher level), but in the reality I had helped create for myself, I wasn’t feeling it at all. A lobster is said to experience boiling to death so slowly they don’t realize what is happening until it’s too late, when they’ve become someone’s dinner. Now in my later forties, the numbness that had settled in occurred over a period of twenty years and wasn’t something that I felt coming on or had awareness of actually being there. I had lost the sense of who I was, and what driven me in my twenties.
My life had become routine to the point that I had started to feel as though I was marking time until retirement. The sparks of joy and ambition, the ability to dream were absent to me. The enthusiasm to take charge of my reality, or at least to work proactively to create a better one for myself, was gone. The elusive eventual retirement would free me from my daily, weekly, yearly repetitive routine, but all that awaited me further down that path would be my eventual death and release from a purposeless life into oblivion.
Had it not been for The Pause resulting directly from the lockdown the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it to my home town, and the special set of circumstances that aligned themselves during it, I might never have come to recognize the warning lights that had been flashing at me.
The Pause provided a slowing of time, a narrowing of responsibilities and the solitude necessary for my mind to process my existence and find ability within itself (with a little help) to awaken a spark of deeper awareness within me.
COVID-19’s physical symptoms have ravaged the lives of so many around the world, but beyond the multitude of physical symptoms COVID-19 brought with it, it also introduced symptoms that have impacted our mental health, regardless of whether we have contracting the virus or not. In many cases, the impact on mental health has been negative; the amount of change brought to our lives made it impossible for there not to have been some sort of an impact on our mental wellness. Fortunately for me, the symptoms have been what I perceive to healthy (so far), and are ones that I hope to codify and embrace as I move forward in my life with greater awareness, understanding, empathy and physical wellbeing.
With the reawakening of my self-awareness and a thaw to the numbness now underway, I have begun my journey to becoming truly healthy. True health, I believe, is impossible to maintain without awareness and maintenance of care of both the physical and mental elements that comprise it. When these elements are in sync, the benefits include opening of doors to new realities, meaningful existence and hopefully a longer, joyful life.
The biggest lesson I have learned so far is to accept that my life before The Pause was a swirling vortex of factors that combined to make made me unhealthy and numb. I’ll call this period of years The Boil, but to many others, they might recognize and know it as their rat race. The Boil influenced what I had allowed myself to become: numb and set on a destructive path that had it had not been for COVID-19, I might not have become aware of the tenuous state of my health before the path consumed me.