Listening to: The Bleachers – Strange Desire
Reading: Devotion by Dani Shapiro
Watching: Star Wars – Return of the Jedi
Up until last week, I had never seen Star Wars. I know, I know, I know… I’ve already received a ton of flak for this.
So, having found myself some extra free time at home during the weekends, and a much bigger need to relax, I made it a goal to watch the entire Star Wars series while we sheltered in place during the COVID 19 pandemic. (Four down, five to go…)
First things first. Let’s pretend Episode 1 doesn’t exist. I am a better Jedi than Liam Neeson, who was literally wrong about everything. And the movie is literally about…taxes? Even a local government nerd like myself can’t get behind that. And Jar Jar Binks? Yikes.
But, I am so pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the original trilogy. Great plot, strong characters, sassy droids, cute ewoks. But geez – Jedi Grand Master Yoda? He sure was wrong about things.
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. –Jedi Grand Master Yoda
Anger and fear are two normal emotions. And at this time, during the pandemic, there are so many emotions you may be experiencing. There is no wrong emotion. But just because an emotion is negative, it does not mean that you will start down a dark path. It will not forever dominate your destiny. It will not forever consume you. (Unless you are Darth Vader.)
Sad because your child will not have a graduation ceremony?
Upset that your trip of a lifetime got cancelled?
Frustrated and scared that you cannot see your elderly parents who are most at risk?
Fearful that you may lose your job?
Scared of a recession?
Understand, you must – you do have a choice in how you react. Acknowledge your feelings. Accept them. And then you can start making peace with them.
And, my local government friends, we also have the added weight of carrying out essential functions in our society. We carry that burden proudly. But that grief, fear, sadness, anger, exhaustion, and uncertainty you are feeling? Completely normal. And I assure you others are feeling it too. You are not alone in this.
It is ok that you are grieving and feeling a sense of loss in this uncertain world. Unfortunately, it is true that there are some that have chosen hate, but unlike Yoda predicted, we have not all gone to the Dark Side. We may be physically distancing ourselves from our family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones – but the overwhelming outpouring of love and unity I see in the world is not hate.
What if, Master Yoda, fear can actually lead to…connection? Vulnerability? Love? Strength?
So how can you prevent yourself from turning to the Dark Side?
Check in with your friends, family, and co-workers. Often. Be open and honest about what you are feeling. Encourage them to do the same.
Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. (Darth Vader runs pretty slowly in that COVID-19 approved mask. He won’t catch you.)
Lastly – give yourself grace. Give grace to others. We are all navigating strange times. Together.