Our distinct and growing awareness is that this new world is made up of a thousand micro-decisions each day. Do we go here? Do we really need this item? Can we visit this person? What are the risks and considerations at every turn? A furious constancy of risk assessment that has been for us, both necessary and exhausting. In addition, we are aware of how very different we are in our risk tolerance.

The fatigue of seemingly unending decision-making takes a toll on everyone

For the first time in 31 years, with children grown and his teaching career completed, Tim made the request that we leave Ontario for a stretch of time in the winter; to find somewhere warm and quiet to rest our souls and listen to waves. We deliberated over this for ages. We have been protecting not only our own well-being as we age, but the well-being of a number of very vulnerable people in our closest sphere. 

And while we had created a plan- the decision to enact it, as with everything these days, was arduous. To go or not to go. Finally, after examining all of the factors again and again, we eventually reached a level of comfort for each of us. Included in this was coming to terms with the risk of judgement and ridicule. Ultimately, with the awareness that flying itself was being touted as relatively safe, and the reassurance of our triple vaccinated status, along with the news of Omicron having peaked…we determined to head to the South of Spain. 

Using dialogue to understand our difference in risk tolerance has been essential!

And here we are- in Andalucia-with a big mutual enormous sigh of release. There is a gentle unwinding that is occurring in each of us. Incremental yet inevitable. Tim likens this to the ‘layers of an onion’ as he unravels himself to reach his true nature. For me it feels like a slow emergence, as though I have been in a cocoon which has been blighted. I hadn’t previously been able to find the nurturing and peace I needed to emerge, even if only a semi-vibrant iteration of the person I have been in the past. And yet as the days continue here, there are moments where I feel the warmth of the sun, or the cool wind, or the sound of the waves and I notice that I am breathing. Breathing without telling myself to breathe. My heart lifts.

We all need certain things to help us find our way back to our true essence.

There is a particular kind of loss that has occurred during this pandemic era. It goes something like this. ‘My world has become remarkably small. My concerns have become increasingly intense. Self-care cannot really touch or heal the parts of me that are wanting, lonely, frustrated. I feel helpless and worried’. This has been true for my clients, friends, colleagues and for our community. The result has been that those who experience isolation and loss as deep suffering have often not readily reached out to connect meaningfully with others. The distance between people has grown and the losses have piled up. This is exacerbated of course in situations where there has not been alignment regarding the severity of the virus and the need to protect. Friendships, marriages, communities…have been experiencing rifts. We know that disconnect breeds discomfort, discomfort breeds anxiety, anxiety breeds reactivity and reactivity can cause hurts that are very very challenging to repair.

So there is a chronicity of suffering, losses in relationships and the very real losses of loved ones for any number of reasons, Covid included. Despair, loneliness, disconnectedness, fatigue, hurt, fear, worry. Joys have been present, yet tempered by the challenges inherent in celebrating. 

Suffering & loss are universal experiences,as is Joy. 

We are of course not saying something new. We are simply taking time to reflect on our decision to be away – to turn inwards and nurture ourselves and our relationship. We recognize that we are able to do this when so many are not and we are deeply grateful for this opportunity. For in this space we are able to practice what we lovingly teach. How to connect. How to listen deeply. How to hold space for the three essential elements of relationship, as Martin Buber expressed- the “I – thou” (You & Me & the space between). 

It is essential to hold space for each unique person in the relationship as well as the space between.

Sunshine and fresh air and a pause in the intensity of caring for others has helped us. However without the intentionality of turning towards our relationship with care and nurturing, we would be in trouble. Our days begin and end with some form of dialogue. Our decision making is aided with dialogue. Our deep listening and curiosity are habits we continue to embed. We look forward to sharing with others the ways we are refining our practice of IMAGO and dialogue through every day tools, as we work to pave a more readily available path to meaningful connection.

New tools are constantly emerging for easing the path to meaningful connection.