Finding joy in limbo

It’s mid-winter 2021, a frozen, Groundhog Day limbo. We are locked in our houses wondering when in the hell Bill Murray is finally going to wake up and discover the way out. Like maybe the day he gets it, the spell will break and we’ll all be able to get back to life.

Yet, for now, we stay home. Reading books, baking bread or finally forcing ourselves into that language/musical instrument/yoga position we always said we would. Taking the dog for the same walk. Watching the same TV programs (because we’ve already watched everything on Netflix & Prime; twice). Perhaps falling into the drudgery and watching our minds slip towards the patterns of rumination, complaining and criticizing (mostly ourselves).


Over, and over, and over, …

The vaccine is on the way and there is hope. But it’s the long-haul before the finish and it’s hard to see the line through the fog of our suspended lives. There is a risk of slipping out of purpose and into an oblivion of the mundane. Pondering the point to our existence amid the the laundry and the dishes.

Have you noticed it? The dampening of a spark that normally would ignite your day towards meaning. Where has it gone. More importantly, are you still looking for it?

Because it’s there, it’s always there. Just out of sight. Possibly in hiding. Chased away by the bitter-dark thoughts. Or fleeing from grasp like a child playing tag. “You can’t catch me!” Seems like the harder you look, the more elusive it seems.

What if we stop. Cease chasing desire; hunting for pleasure. What happens then?

What would that look like?

Is it getting up and walking outside. Becoming aware of the chitter-chatter of a mind that wants to fix the day before it’s even started to be a problem? Letting go of the projects and plans that just won’t fit. And along with them, dropping the complaints of what others should have done, and not done.

Gently asking the my mind to release it all.

Focusing instead on what it happening right now. The grey/blue/pink/black sky. The mud/frost/snow. The green of the grass or the ice on a puddle. Simply see what is there.

Later, perhaps a shower. Flipping the temperature to cold, to practice facing the discomfort long enough to remember the feeling of life. Heart pumping; vagus activating; breath catching life.

Leave the news, the emails and the ever-present social media off till working out what to do with the day, no matter how small it may feel, there is a difference to be made. It’s easily drowned by the external noise. Create a space. For curiosity, gratitude, kindness or contribution. Whatever feels most meaningful. Some days that leads into a series of ambitious endeavors. Others it looks like lying on the floor and allowing the release of tension and thoughts.

And when the void comes close, let it come. Let it touch.

Halt the pursuit and just sit a while. Empty it feels. Often, black it looks.

A strange hiding place indeed.

But there it is, joy dances out from the shadows.


We can keep going on mechanically, running one day into the next and cursing whoever/whatever we meet that it won’t end. Or we can pause. Neither running from nor chasing after. Find stillness in the haze and let whatever is there be there. Sometimes it will be joy. Sometimes it won’t. Maybe that’s where we find the secret to waking up and getting back to life.