I feel like a hermit, wrapped in anxiety, covered in fear. I realize I will transform, but I am also present with where I am.

Viruses, fires, backstabbing politics, and economic crises fill my waking hours and my sleep.

I remember studying about the Black Plague in middle school. I was fascinated by how terrifying the idea of a virus, started on the back of rats, made its way into human society, and later into history books, and Monty Python movies.

“Bring out yer dead,” cried one of the Monty Python guys as they piled the bodies onto the straw filled wagon. It was so far fetched, that it took me to a place of hysterical laughter. It is my first clear memory of laughing in the face of disaster. Around that same time, several other disaster movies came into my world, “Towering Inferno” and the “Planet of the Apes” film series. The former was about some mega skyscraper engulfed in flames while people jumped from windows and glass shattered. I watched it over and over and finally concluded that adults thought that watching these movies was fun. It didn’t seem like much fun to me, but I was a kid and thought that this was simply a part of my passage into adult society.

I see now that I didn’t just watch these movies but took them into my physical and emotional body. It was like the events were happening to me personally and the boundary between movie and my life was somehow partially removed. Maybe that’s just part of being a tween. You feel everything so deeply.

Postscript, those were probably the last two scary movies I ever watched. Tried really hard to watch “Silence of the Lambs” once and lasted about 30 seconds. Never understood how to watch those kinds of things and not take it in. No great loss really. I mean who needs scary movies? Life itself can be scary enough.

Fast forward to now. Suddenly, life feels like I’m experiencing “Towering Inferno”, wrapped in Monty Python’s “History of the World”, and all covered in “Planet of the Apes”. Even though there is no movie, my physical and emotional body are living the fears of my current life. Natural disasters, viruses, and all sorts of planetary woes compete within my mind in an attempt to consume my existence.

I am trying, trying to find a new way to be with all of this. And within this process, I realize that I am also fighting another great virus that I will call, The FEAR virus.  It can be all consuming. I am learning how to not let it consume my physical and emotional body. Learning to sit beside my fear while I keep on keeping on.

I prefer to end these musings all neatly tied up with a bow on top. I like my writings to provide insight and solutions. I don’t have that to offer here. I will stay as I am, however, instead of being wrapped in anxiety and consumed in fear, I am learning to be present with them while I go on living.

©Jodi Freedman, 2020

         Jodi Freedman is a 2019 ISI BAWP participant and is learning how to do things like take pictures and share her writing in ways that brings joy to her and others. This is Jodi’s 30th year teaching middle school. 

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