There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.
Over the past 6 weeks I have been doing my best to emulate the farmer – trying not to judge the situation I find myself in as good or bad, trying to do my best to stay in the present moment, instead of reminiscing about the past or overthinking the future. Most of the time however I am more like the farmer’s neighbours – one day feeling optimistic, and the next wanting to crawl under the covers as I try to envision how we can reopen our doors and go back to doing what we have done for the past 13 years.
The fact that I conceived and built hemma as a place for people to come together in shared space to heal is particularly challenging in this new world. How do we continue to care for the hundreds of people that walked through our doors each week, while keeping them safe. How do we pay the bills and keep afloat in this new world, knowing that even prior to this pandemic, and our success, that it was getting harder to pay the bills, to pay people a living wage. These are challenging times indeed.
I was reading an essay recently, written by a restaurant owner in New York, that I think gives some great insight into what it is like to run a small business, and how the pandemic has impacted small businesses around the world. I feel a sense of kinship with other small business owners right now. Even though none of us have any idea what our future looks like, there is a sense of connection, of understanding, of empathy. One prayer I have for our collective future is that we won’t go back to “business as usual,” at least in one sense.
From what I could see in my clinic, and in the studio, many of us were already struggling on so many levels – emotionally, physically, financially. Without a lot of reflection and change I sometimes fear that what we go back to may be potentially more difficult for at least some of us. In the same way we have worked together so well to contain the spread of this virus, I hope we can work together to create a future that is gentler on each other and gentler on the planet. I know for myself that I am going to be more determined to slow the pace of my life – take time to walk in the woods, cook a meal, play my music, drive less. Most of all I hope I will get to see you all again, in a recliner or on a yoga mat. Together again in community, where we can nurture and care for one another. Until then stay safe, and stay connected in whatever ways you can create.