Is it okay to NOT be okay?
I’ve read memes on social media lately saying that it is “okay to be okay.” It can come off as a little glib, but mostly I agree — it’s been an extremely challenging year for so many, but for some, they continue with work and good health and are, for all intents and purposes, fine. There’s nothing wrong with being fine, even if that is only your experience in a world gone mad.
But what about the opposite? What about when we’re not fine?
That was me this week.
I was not fine. I was not okay.
What do we do then?
I have had so many remarkable moments this year. Strange, deep, almost primordially dark moments. Bright, shining, transcendent moments. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot in between. This has not been a year to coast. It’s been a year of monumental climbs and terrifying free falls. So I guess it’s not unexpected that when pressed with uncomfortable situations and worrying developments, my meter would tip to not fine a little more quickly.
I woke up today with a tension in my stomach. An ache in that pesky solar plexus, where I always seem to carry my concerns. And as I got up, I sat down to write and had this sudden moment of clarity that this is what 2020 is like, in a nutshell — gorgeous highs and scary lows all within a few minutes.
Have you experienced that?
A quick example: today my son graduated from college—a beautiful moment if ever there is one. I could not be prouder of him or more happy. I watched his virtual graduation with my heart almost bursting. But on the other hand, at the same time, a development in another area of my life plunged into frigid waters and I froze with momentary horror. I have had to hold the tension of these two experiences the entire day.
No, I’m not okay.
But oddly, I kind of am okay, I guess. I’m still sitting here. I’m still typing. I’m sitting in my sanctuary, at my beloved vintage table desk with candles flickering and soft holiday music (you know the one) playing. I have all of my basic (and some other more creature comfort-related) needs met. I am not actually suffering.
Or am I?
This is the game I play with myself: Lisa, are you suffering?
No. Not really, I guess. BUT IT FEELS LIKE I’M SUFFERING.
Look around and tell me if you are suffering.
(Looks around, sighs) Ok. I’m not actually suffering. I don’t feel okay, though.
Well, you are okay, but we may just not agree on what okay looks like.
Ah. There it is. In this year of almost insane highs and lows, we have to be able to hold the tension of okay and not okay, fine and not fine, suffering and not suffering.
And maybe that’s just life, with or without a pandemic and with or without a lot of political drama.
So yes, it’s okay to NOT be okay. If you are, or if you aren’t, you’re in good company because apparently I am both. And I would love to hear from you.
Are you okay over there?
With laughs at myself and a heart full of gratitude for you,