Gimme Shelter

I hadn’t intended to name this blog. But I think “gimme shelter” works–at least during this time when the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, refuses to order a “shelter in place” for residents, despite the fact that the cases of COVID-19 are growing at a truly alarming rate in the peach state. (C’mon Kemp. Gimme Shelter. Give us shelter. Or let Stacey Abrams take over.)

Also, I just really love the Rolling Stones. My husband and I got married in our home, my therapist officiating (if that tells you anything about me), and after we kissed for the first time as husband and wife, one of our two guests put on “Torn and Frayed,” from Exile on Main Street, which felt like an appropriate anthem for Sam and me, each entering a second marriage in mid-life.  Sure, the song is about addiction, and making music, and living on the edge–and that wasn’t Sam’s and my story–but the line, “just as long as the guitar still plays” resonated. You don’t have to be shiny and new for the music to sound good.  You don’t have to be shiny and new to find love. In fact, Sam and I found each other after each getting worn down a little.

Yesterday the wonderful Robin Homonoff hosted me on her podcast, “Reading with Robin, during which we mused  on how a lot of us might go full-on gray during this period of social distancing and hair salons temporarily closing. That or Madison Reed is going to have a banner year.

It’s a fine line between taking action that makes you feel good about yourself and clinging to a youth that has passed, all while overlooking the juicy gifts of middle age.  I don’t want to fight aging too hard. Still, I’m not yet ready to go gray.

Are my thoughts on aging with or without hair color too shallow during this time, or just very human? So many people are suffering. And dying. I know that the majority of humanity will survive this pandemic, but not everyone. That is so sobering and so awful. I wish there was a way to wrest the gifts of this time away from the tragedy. The gift of bird song everywhere, and freer days, and the stripping away of the inessential, and not really giving a shit about more gray hairs, and the joy of more idle time with my kid, and more hikes, and more meals on the porch. But there’s this dread cloud in the distance. How bad is it going to get?

Mostly I try not to go there.

It’s interesting: My anxiety manifests in health worries. Sam’s plays out in worrying about money. Surely, there’s a gendered aspect to that.

One thing my “serenity prayer” meditation (from 10 Percent Happier) teaches is to accept reality as it is. We are in an uncertain and dangerous moment. That is true. There is no trick mirror that will transport us into a different reality. We are here. It’s awful, but it’s the truth of the situation. And in some ways, allowing myself to recognize the truth-that we ARE in a global pandemic, that this IS scary and real and unchartered–helps me better navigate my way through it, or at least, keeps me somewhat grounded.

Here’s something else that’s keeping me grounded: Revisiting the poetry of Mary Oliver. And here’s a song I used to listen to all the time in college, a song I’ve returned to lately, as it’s evocative of long, slow, days.  Also, the 70s style captured in this video is pretty great.