C.S. Lewis once stated; “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is, of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life.”
Clive Staple Lewis was a British writer and lay theologian best known for his “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Screwtape Letters” books. He questioned much of ‘real life’ during his early years and it was not until he was in his thirty’s that he began to see all of life’s splendor, even in the midst of – and despite of – its darkness.”
In a previous Insight published in September 2019 entitled “Beautiful Interruptions”, I wrote about
and used this famous quote by Lewis as I described a typical ‘real’ life day of my own.
Yes, I had (and continue to have) plans that were and are constantly being interrupted, but I was also able to count all the adventures as a result of the everyday intrusions. What I didn’t know seven months ago is that there would be a much more potent interruption taking place today. For me, the current events are a simple but an irritating distraction – but for others the current times can be a traumatic event based upon individual circumstances. Is my ideal of “beautiful interruptions” still beautiful today?
To be honest, the dust hasn’t settled yet for me to have clear vision for that answer - but I suspect that I (and perhaps many others) will be able to uncover something special – something beautiful when it is over. But until then, what?
WebMD offers the following guidelines and helpful suggestions for those who may be going through exceptionally distressing times:
1) Face it and don’t avoid it. “As tempting as it may be to try to ignore a traumatic event….facing your feelings head-on is important because you want to be able to take care of them in a way that helps you move forward.
2) Don’t isolate yourself. (Obviously, this advice was published before self-isolation was a thing.) But seriously, we have many opportunities with online chats, FaceTime and Zoom that make it easy to connect with others. Don’t have access to the internet? Phone calls still work. And, I actually received an old fashion handwritten note through snail mail last weekend. It made my day! Write a letter if you must – just stay connected with loved ones and friends in whatever way you can.
3) Exercise and meditate – As WebMD states, experts say these two things are one of the most effective ways to handle the stresses we are experiencing today. But, also, be gentle with yourself. “Don’t force things, though. If you’re tired, it’s OK to rest.”
4) Keep a routine – If there is anything I have learned through all of this is keeping some sort of routine. Researchers at Tel Aviv University state that predictable, repetitive routines are calming and help reduce anxiety. Routines help you have some form of control of your day and subsequently, your life. For me personally, a daily and weekly routine has been a lifesaver.
5) Celebrate life – Even the small and ordinary are causes to celebrate during stressful times. Did you take a shower? Celebrate. Did you get out of your PJs? Celebrate. (Did you just giggle? Or crack a smile? Celebrate).
6) Turn up the music - British dramatist William Congreve stated, "Music has charms to soothe a savage beast." And – while you are at it – dance too.
So, is today’s exceptionally weird interruption as beautiful as I thought they were seven months ago? Darned if I know. But while we experience temporary unpleasantness, we might as well “face it head on” and dance, celebrating life in small ways. And when this is all behind us – maybe for a majority of us there is the correct assumption that “we will realize how little we need, how very much we actually have, and the true value of human connection.”
If this is the outcome of today’s circumstances, then yes, once the dust settles – I believe the current conditions will be judged as a beautiful interruption. Until then? Make your own beauty whenever possible. Write a letter, turn up the music and dance away….in your PJs!