In many ways, life has not changed too drastically. I was able to ride today and still maintain social distance. My husband worked on a house project. The kids did chores and spent the day on their devices. They also were in charge of dinner tonight, which was delicious. We virtually ate dinner with my brother and sister-in-law. Soon it’s time to head to the movies in the family room. For the most part, our pace has slowed way down and we are falling into a rhythm of what it means to be sheltered at home. But we are spoiled.
I can’t help but think how different life must be like for the elderly in the nursing home who no longer have visitors or even the social interaction of group classes or meals. More and more people are losing their jobs and facing the reality of a tough road ahead without income. Teachers are struggling to get instruction on line while parents are trying to figure out how they are going to work from home and teach their kids. Many families don’t have the internet connection, working space, or emotional strength needed right now. Others are starting to get sick and facing health issues and fears related to COVID-19.
Over the past few years with the changes and disruptions in my own life, one of the places I’ve learned to turn to for some perspective is my animals. Today I was able to join others on a walk only ride. Social distancing really isn’t much of an issue on horses. We do it anyway. My horse who normal doesn’t move beyond a slow crawl was rearing to go. I could hardly hold him back for most of the ride, except when we went through the water and he decided to stop midstream. I’m not an experienced rider and it was the first time I rode through water. The rider near me gently said, “sit back in your seat and give him his head.” I relaxed and sat back and loosened my reins. He knew exactly what to do and walked straight to the other side. I think there might be a lesson in here for all of us. The more scared we get, the harder we hold on and pull back on the reins. In many cases we are fighting each other. I see it in the education field. Teachers are trying to follow directions from administrators who are following rules from the government. Parents are angry that there is too much or too little work. Everyone’s fighting for control. It’s causing some of us just to stop in the middle of the stream, not knowing what we are supposed to do. I think horse advice works here. “Sit back, and give whoever it is their head.” We are going to need to start trusting each other. We are going to have to be responsible for our own families and communities and not expect others to fix it. We are going to have to do what we can to keep ourselves and others healthy and safe. We may have to sit back and let some of this play out without getting so caught up in controlling everything. It’s way beyond our control anyway. Let’s give each other grace and patience. Let’s help where we are able. Let’s take what we need and give when we can. Things are not the same as they were. Maybe instead of trying to make them that way again, we need to embrace the parts of this new reality which are good and grow them and let go of the things that no longer serve us.
One of the reasons we only walk on these rides is because when one horse runs they all get excited and just start running. It’s easy for things to get out of control. The same is true for us in the ride we are on with COVID-19. It doesn’t help us to just start running, to stop midstream, or to keep looking back. We need to move forward and walk with purposeful, deliberate steps. We can get through this together. Walk only.