Add to that, working with the inherent judgments that arise for those not wearing masks and those not even attempting to honor social distancing, taking time to implore store management to require masks for all patrons, and taking time to catch up on news. By the time I returned home, I was exhausted, stressed and discouraged. The virus was now acting in differing ways, there was the growing conflict with those that wanted to open up the economy and those that felt it was too risky, and the ongoing saga of mishandled leadership as the administration continued to stumble along.
All this was a perfect storm for feeling hopeless, sad and depressed. And I did. I got home and cried in the shower--the shower that now needed to follow a trip into town just to be sure every chance of the virus' survival is washed away.
Our tendency during times of threat—perceived or actual—is to shift into anxiety or survival mode. We’re hardwired for this. Our negativity bias goes on high alert and is on the look out for threats, what’s wrong, what’s out of place, what isn’t working. As part of this, today we may find ourselves fixating on social media or news reports or other stimulating media that can support activation of stress and anxiety in our hearts, minds and bodies.
So, how do we remain connected to our best resources—a vibrant, healthy body; a clear mind with access to deep wisdom; and an open and loving heart—to meet and navigate through difficult times, particularly extended ones, such as the Covid-19 situation?
Epiphany #1: Christmas evening we're watching the new release of Pinnochio at the cinema on the edge of Piazza Cavour near our hotel. It's all in Italian, but knowing the story, we follow along, recognizing a few words and phrases here and there. Roberto Benigni plays Geppetto and I'm transported back to the version of the story I learned as a child. I don't even remember that it is an Italian story until it unfolds on the screen.
Surrounded by caring and kind Italian families both in the cinema and for the week we've been touring around, I get a sense of the warmth I experienced from my grandfather and on occasion my father. There's a tenderness about the interactions. Protective and caring. And then it dawns on me...
I'm in Rome.
I'm in Rome, Italy.
This is where my family is from. This is where their family is from. Generations of Italian families growing up with this warm, kind attention and affection. With this caring.
I can remember it from my grandparents. I can remember it whenever I see loving and caring families, but this is different. Because everyone looks a lot like me. A lot like I did as a child. A lot like I'm beginning to look as a mature adult.
This. This culture of warmth is what I remember in my earliest childhood memories. The togetherness. The food as love. The guidance. The looking up to my parents with awe and reverence.
They wanted this for us. They wanted to give us this container of compassionate caring. This is what they were trying to build in the American culture of their time and place. In northern California, specifically in the Sonoma and Napa valley region.
I well up with tears during the movie and by the time we exit, I'm holding back sobs. Important sobs. I'm feeling embarrassed, as I usually do when I can't control or name what's happening. I finally stammer to Jim, "I don't know what's happening, but I need to just sit and experience it until it passes."
Appreciation of my Italian heritage was rekindled, fostered and deepened as we wended our way through the north of Italy towards my family roots.
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