Staring-straight-ahead Time

I am not a morning lark.  My niece is, though. 

I remember those times she stayed overnight with her cousin, my daughter.  In my pre-dawn fog, I could hear her chattering away, speaking too softly to understand her words, but too loudly to continue to sleep.

May as well get up. 

But was I functional?  Um, no.

First, I needed staring-straight-ahead time.  For me, that’s the foggy time before the caffeine kicks in.  During that time, I’m not up for demands from others.  Actually, I’m not up for much.

I once saw a meme on Facebook that described my kind of staring-straight-ahead time perfectly.  Here it is:

A Morning Poem


Coffee Coffee Coffee

Everyone shut up


The emptiness of isolation

Lately, I find that I’m staring straight ahead in the middle of the day.  You too?  It isn’t a caffeine-deprivation kind of gaze, but rather a blank stare.  Today I stood at the kitchen sink, my eyes resting on the hummingbird feeder outside my kitchen window. 

Then I noticed that the hummingbird was doing the same thing.  This little critter sat so still and for so long that I had plenty of time to find my phone and return to take a photo.  It lingered for quite a while, and I lingered too, long after she flitted away. 

My mind was blank.

We put so many expectations on ourselves during this unexpected and extraordinary time. Expectations that arose from our previous world.  On Instagram, I saw a coaching colleague lay a guilt trip on her clients by saying “If you’re not getting your projects done during isolation, lack of time is no longer your excuse.”   Ouch. 

What we must understand is that the world is different now.  Uncertainty is our new normal.

As this lovely article explains, we need to move from our anxiety about that uncertainty to a place of surrender. 

Here’s the truth:

  • It’s OK if you don’t finish the monster project you assigned yourself.
  • It’s OK if your dishes are dirty in the sink.
  • It’s OK if you’re wearing sweatpants during Zoom meetings.
  • It’s OK if you aren’t the perfect parent/teacher/nurturer to your homebound kids.
  • It’s OK if you’d rather be in the garden, or buried in a book, or watching the birds build a nest

No need to self-flagellate

Please know that if you’re not living up to the lofty standard you set for yourself in pre-isolation days, you’re not a failure.  You’re human.   

Staring straight ahead, is perfectly OK. 

My morning routine these past few years has been to enjoy my first cup of coffee with my morning pages.  I write 3 pages of whatever is on my mind as fast as I can – without thinking.  No grammar, punctuation or syntax corrections – just puke it out, right onto the page. 

Starting my day by leaving all the head trash on the paper, I find that I have more room to be clear in my focus when I am finally concentrating on a task.  Like writing.  Or crochet.  Or recently, unpacking.

Releasing the head trash, staring straight ahead, and surrendering to the new normal leaves an opening for something else to spring forth in its own time.  Pushing doesn’t feel useful right now.

These feelings will pass.  Your new normal will show up. You’ll begin again.

1 Reply to "Staring-straight-ahead Time"

  • Jeanette Kahl
    May 27, 2020 (9:44 am)

    So right on……..yes, I am feeling guilty that I am not doing the sorting, purging, paperwork that I have so much time for. Instead, I am reading, watching videos, some staring into space (type of meditation) with a few evenings of Netflix. I tell myself this is the perfect time to do all the things that need doing, still, I procrastinate, give myself a little “you can do this anytime” chat and self-indulge. Every day ends up with “tomorrow is another day, do it then”. It seems tomorrow never arrives.

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