How does it feel to be under the lion’s paw? Are you feeling frightened, depressed, angry, powerless, hopeless? Many of us are experiencing those same emotions as we struggle with this virus and the multiple changes in our lives.
My reference to the lion’s paw comes from Hamlin Garland’s 1889 story “Under the Lion’s Paw.” The specific situation in that story involves a concluding scene in which a hard-working man and his family are being victimized by a wealthy landowner who, oddly enough, has spent the past year in Washington, D.C., visiting with his brother-in-law who has been elected to Congress.
When we feel the emotions I’ve mentioned above, we have the urge to blame someone or thing — our government and its leaders, another country. And in the absence of those targets, we may find ourselves behaving in uncivil ways to the persons with whom we are living, especially if we are self-quarantined because of our age or pre-existing medical conditions. Striking out at those closest to us is the last thing we should be doing. Using your mediation skills is the best action to take. Simply put: (1) All parties should sit down and calm themselves with breathing exercises (deep breath in through the nose and slowly released through the mouth, three times); (2) Each person gets to talk about what is annoying him or her and what he or she prefers as an alternative to that behavior; (3) Persons in the group agree on what can be changed and on what timeline and what cannot be changed.
A big issue is, at times, money, and research in 2017 concluded that 57 percent of American families don’t have $500 to cover an emergency, and a study in 2019 revealed that only 40 percent of said families could cover a $1,000 emergency. This calls for a family discussion of how expenses could be reduced, short range and over the long haul. You always want to be living below your means. Cell phone bills, utility bills, gas for vehicles are good places to consider in terms of immediate cuts.
Boredom comes into play once we cannot do what we are accustomed to doing: eating out, going to movies, working out at the fitness center, meeting our friends for a drink. Most don’t like change, and even those who embrace change want the changes to be minimal, anticipated, and still leave us with a measure of control. The changes we are currently experiencing are objectionable to virtually everyone in terms of the ways in which they are encompassing virtually every aspect of our lives.
Instead of being bored, why not use this time to handle those tasks you’ve talked about doing for months such as deep cleaning the house, straightening the closets and drawers, working on that scrapbook, putting together donations for Good Will or the Salvation Army.
Reading, listening to music, writing, playing old board games are all good ways to avoid being bored. And there are ways being suggested by fitness centers to work out at home. Try them instead of saying, “But I don’t have the equipment.” Walk in your neighborhood or run. Now is not the time to binge on food as you will become more lethargic, depressed.
And when you do eat, use that as a time to practice your skills of expressing gratitude — either silently or as a family. I lost my billfold at Walmart last week, and each of the five persons in the chain of those who handled it could have easily removed my debit card and the significant amount of money that was in it. They all chose to do the right thing, and I am so very grateful to have the aforementioned items plus my driver’s license and my medical cards back in my possession.
In conclusion, I asked one of my Facebook friends, author Jessica Keener, if I could use one of her recent posts: “This strange sphere we are all in right now — circling drifting floating wondering waiting anticipating preparing — is accentuating my appreciation for all those I love and has heightened my sense of neighborhood.”
I’m no Polyanna. I struggle, too. I use the Serenity Prayer as one of my tools: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”