Every day, now, I walk up and down the one mile levee where I live on a houseboat on the Columbia River in North Portland. I’ve gotten to meet many of the neighbors these weeks: folks that used to go to the gym are now runners and walkers regardless of the weather; folks I’ve never met are now outside their townhouses on a nice day. I can now recognize dogs, appreciate gardens, identify relationships between people I hadn’t known were together.
Yesterday I walked past builders who were siding a house. Their radio played my very favorite Keb Mo song (She Just Wants to Dance). When I hear it I don’t have a lotta choice – my body just moves. So yesterday, in the middle of the street, I began wiggling just a bit. Then, hey, what the hell. Great music. Empty dance floor. Booty already shakin’.
I closed my eyes and danced. From the soul right into the hips. Ahhhhhh. Dancin in the soft spring sun with the sounds of water, birds and boats nearby. And Keb Mo! At some point I opened my eyes; four other people were dancing with me. A flash mob!
During my daily walk there’s been a series of activities. At the start of the quarantine period, the men seemed to be outside doing man-stuff on their houses and cleaning their cars; the women were weeding their small gardens. About 3 weeks ago the men seemed to disappear, and the women’s gardening became repotting, fertilizing, etc. And mind you, there aren’t really such things as gardens here. On our houseboats, many of us have potted plants in some sort of aesthetic configuration; on the levees, the townhouses have postage stamp sized gardens that are quite well cared for. Pretty.
This week there’s been another shift. More people-connecting: couples sitting out on their benches and talking or walking holding hands; folks in groups, at a safe distance of course, sometimes a street width apart. By now we’ve gotten to know each other (There are 153 houseboats and maybe 50 townhouses.) and I feel free to join whenever I see 3 people standing near each other. ‘Party?’
Folks seem rather chipper at these get-togethers. Gardens. Take-out. Webinars with clients. Zoom with family. Netflix. Everyone sharing, nodding, smiling. Happy.
When they ask how I am, I say I’ve been creative; lovely clients and colleagues; friends healthy; new book going really well. I’m certainly one of the lucky ones. But half of my heart is grieving. I share my sadness – the deep deep sadness that surrounds me these days – and my despair. My heart actually hurts, I tell them.
My neighbors get quiet, then begin sharing their truths. They too are sad, grieving. So much suffering. So many lives affected, ended. Families, companies, relationships, children, work – lives toppled one way or another. So much of it unnecessary.
And so. Seems we’ve all figured out how to live around the grief. Personally, I contribute what and where I can. I meditate and scream at the television. In bad moments I cry. And I wait. Not sure what I’m waiting for. As a good Buddhist and Quaker I know that Now is all there is. And yet it’s lurking back there, dark and gauzy with no fixed form, waiting for me after Keb Mo.
Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, author NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity, Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell), listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharondrewmorgen.com She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.