“How are yoooouuuu?”
This is the most loaded question anyone can ask right now and for some reason there is an emphasis on the word YOU each time.
If your answer doesn’t include the word “complicated“… in some vein you are not in my tribe! The timeline of this pandemic feels like it is now in dog years with each second multiplied by seven.
We were out the other day and usual pleasantries were exchanged (less hugging of course). It was a day where I was there in body but not in mind. The smile was automatic, it was expected, it wasn’t false but there was no depth either. I felt like I was having an out of body experience where I was watching myself mechanically replying to the questions being asked. I didn’t feel like my usual self. The day came to a close and homeward bound we went. It would have been considered a “nice” evening. I am not a fan of the word nice, it is benign. My former high school English teacher who would deduct marks for us using this word.“You have almost 200,000 words to pick from”, he would say, “find another description that has some life in it!“
We got home and I went to throw some laundry in the washing machine. As I loaded it up, I probably consciously looked at this machine for the first time. I felt it was speaking to me. I lingered in the room with a focus on the moment that I had not had before. Was this another life lesson barreling my way? Dare I say, I think it was.
I googled (of course!) laundry steps and what jumped out at me was that this chunk of metal and I were having a mirrored moment.
Move over spirit animal … I found my spirit appliance!
I squinted my eyes and jumped into my imaginary space as a piece of laundry. A bit worn and frayed around the edges, smudged by the fingerprints of the day and in need to return to the clean and renewed state I was prior. Going through the steps here is what happened.
The Prewash Stage – this is where you get flooded and a cleaning agent poured on you. Real life: you are out, people are asking you how you are doing? What did you accomplish during COVID (no I never baked bread!!)? To hug or not to hug? You are flooded with the same questions every time. People are trying to be pleasant; you can’t hold this against them but you are engulfed and there is no escape.
The Washing Stage – the word used by google in this stage is “agitated”. Nothing more needs to be said here. Yup, we all get it. It’s a good word to describe the present mood.
The Rinsing Stage – this is where the dirty soap water is dumped and fresh water pours in. Real life: this is the point where you have taken on the weighted responsibilities of the day. You have showed up and done the best you can. It is that moment of ease where you get to toss off some of the muck and find something to be grateful for, something that makes you smile, something that makes the weight of this pandemic slip away. The grime is washed away and space has been created for an unpolluted moment to come flowing in.
After this rinse stage the machine actually pauses for a moment.
The Spinning Stage – this is the necessary step to get rid of the last bit of water and get the clothes as dry as possible before the end of the wash. Real Life: You had your pause above and now life wickedly smiles and says HANG ON!!! And it goes again! You grip your nails in just to make it to the end of your day! You know you are closing in on the conclusion of the hours you have to contribute but this stage can either throw you completely off or you have no choice but to just let go and let the last few hours take you where they will.
DONE – the cycle is complete. The machine has stopped. The green light comes on. Everything goes quiet. I kid you not, I stroked the top lid of the machine. Crazily, I felt so understood by this piece of metal.
It was time to hang the clothes up in sun (yes, we still do that in Caribbean). I pegged my linens along the line and stepped back watching them flutter in the sunshine and blowing in the wind. If they were alive, I think they would have been cheerfully laughing flapping about the place.
I paused and smiled. Once again, these everyday life lessons were popping into my 2020 world and I had unexpected stumbled onto another one.
For our patients who are coming to Barbados Fertility Centre and must go through the washing machine efforts of traveling in a pandemic for your IVF treatment, I am speaking directly to you today. I know the additional stress of flying during this time as well as dealing with health and safety travel protocols must be like the washing machine analogy above. But today I want to encourage you that waiting on the other side of that experience is your beautiful laughing moment in the sun. It is on the other side of this part of the travel experience that you can flood your hopes and dreams of a family with the warmth and devotion of your love and faith.
As you wait in quarantine, you have the amazing opportunity to re-conceptualize those days as moments to wash off the stresses of life and reconnect with yourself and your purpose of being here. It is a time where you can shed off the stuff that no longer serves you and give yourself an upgraded mindset. Like the washing machine stages, you can engulf yourself with compassion and grace and take the time to acknowledge the brave step you have made in the name of love to create your family.
When you exit quarantine know that Barbados is ready for you and ready for you to experience life again. For the duration of your holiday you will be able to connect with yourself and your partner. You will be able to go grab a bite to eat by the seaside, to have a sundowner cocktail as you gaze over the horizon with colours that are so vibrant they don’t have names, to listen to live music under the stars and sing tunes you can only laugh in the middle of because you don’t know the words, to place your toes in the sand and the most beautiful turquoise waters and find pause from the craziness of the world right now.
2020 is not for the faint of heart. This year we will all have experiences that we never expected. The last lesson from the washing machine that we can all take is that it had a start and it had an end. This pandemic experience will one day have an ending but in the meantime, we will all continue to live in the in between.
Keep showing up, keep moving forward , keep going through the stages, your days in the sun are just around the corner.