Let’s be clear: The tragicomedy of our national government’s generalized ineptitude aside—a worldwide pandemic is no laughing matter.
I hope you’re all staying healthy and safe, and following the recommendations of healthcare professionals. Let’s hope and trust that kindness, compassion and collective intelligence will ultimately prevail—as we wake up fully to the fact that we’re all in this together, and so together can restore some measure of harmony.
The Annoying Assistant
What’s also true is that times of intense challenge can be tremendous opportunities—fertile ground for observing and perhaps dissolving the mental-emotional patterns that activate unnecessary suffering.
There’s the story of a spiritual master who always insists on traveling—from one meditation cave to another—in the company of an unusually annoying assistant: someone whose personality and actions are downright unpleasant, bothersome, irritating.
When one of the teacher’s students inquires as to why he keeps such an unpleasant assistant always by his side, the teacher responds by saying that the assistant provides continuous feedback re: the true depth of the teacher’s realization. It’s a challenging circumstance that provides the precious opportunity of noticing patterns of reactivity—or spacious equanimity.
Most of us don’t have to actively seek challenging circumstances. The universe kindly provides these sorts of yoga practices, pro bono!
But when such circumstances appear—whether apparently chosen or apparently unchosen—we can relate to them as opportunities to activate wisdom, kindness and creativity.
The Royal TP-Stampede
Of all the collective patterns that have been triggered by the covid-19 outbreak, the hoarding of toilet paper is the one that stands out as particularly bizarre … yet also, upon further reflection, at least somewhat understandable.
Of all the things to hoard, why toilet paper?
Yes, it’s about personal hygiene—which is rational. But the intensity of the stampede down paper-products aisles everywhere betrays a much more primal and irrational something … but what?
My current hypothesis is rooted in a paradigm that I don’t often employ—but which seems a good choice here: the yoga chakra system.
When the physical survival of the body is threatened—which is the quintessential root-chakra issue—at least we can retain the comfort and dignity of being able to properly wipe our bum! Could this “remedy” to root-chakra imbalance be any more literal?
Anyway, just a theory ….
As the toilet paper supply in my own household begins to dwindle, and regular visits to that section of stores meet consistently with vast emptiness, I’ve had the opportunity to observe my mind’s reactions—which tend mostly to vacillate between amusement and mild annoyance.
Once, beneath the empty shelves where toilet paper and paper towel packages used to live, I spotted a smattering (ten or twelve packs at most) of paper napkins. I snagged two of them for myself and my housemates—as back-up, just in case 🙂
The Immune Brigade
Aside from the napkins—and an impulsive purchase of five pounds of long-grain brown rice, which I almost never eat—for the most part I’ve remained free from hoarding impulses.
The exception has been in relation to some immune-enhancing herbal formulations. For a couple of weeks, I was consistently thwarted in my attempts to purchase My Community—a sweet medicinal mushroom blend, produced by Host Defense. Everywhere I looked—online or storefront—it was sold out.
When finally, one day, I spotted a few bottles at a local natural grocers, my heart nearly leapt out of my chest! Instead of taking just one bottle—my typical habit, for a two-month supply—I quickly placed three of them in my basket. Now, in partial defense of this moment of hoarding, I did send one of these immediately to my mother. But the third one remains here on my bathroom countertop, as a (perhaps overly cautious?) backup.
The one thing that I’m still hankering for and haven’t yet been able to find is that same company’s Agarikon supplement—which, at the moment, seems universally to be out of stock. My frustration at not being able immediately to procure this item makes abundantly clear, for one, how spoiled I have been!
We tend to take for granted having any item that we may be yearning for just a couple clicks away from being shipped … and then (almost magically) appearing on our doorstep, several days hence. Right now, it’s not quite so easy.
Pizza for the Apocalypse
Last week I stopped at Trader Joe’s, mostly to pick up some flowers. Since I was there, ventured a glance down the paper products aisle: nothing. Then noticed another gaping hole—in the long row of chest freezers usually filled with frozen pizzas. That day, not a single frozen pizza remained.
So, along with toilet paper, I guess frozen pizzas are in hot demand in times like these. The apocalypse may be coming, but at least we’ll have some yummy pizza to accompany the Netflix binge—or to enjoy as an aspect of our (newly-possible!) solitary meditation retreat 🙂