When Reality Bites
“Lunchtime in the Sub-Antarctic”
The “Reality” of 2020 is really something. It’s as if it can’t get any worse, and then….it gets worse.
“Reality” is all-the-way painful right now, for many people in many countries and on many fronts. You could call it a bite. A sting. Or even a wounding. No matter where you are in the world – and I’m writing this from the very edge of it – New Zealand – you’ve likely experienced some kind of “stinging” from this year’s events.
“Is everything gonna be Ok?”
I would be remiss to fluff it up and say “It will be ok”. I don’t know what the future of reality holds. No one does. Many people – especially economists – contend that this will be the new “Depression”. That’s a whole lot worse than a “Recession”, which many of us made it through ok from 2008 – 2010. This could tank everything we know, and last many years, perhaps even longer than the Great Depression of the 1920’s.
What can we do about it? There isn’t a place you can go where you can “hide” from, “deny” or “negate” the incredible changes that this year’s reality is. Not like we’ve had the luxury of doing in previous decades.
We have no choice but to face reality this time, but I can’t tell you how you should handle it. Everyone has their own idea about what “reality” is happening anyway!
I can tell you how I’ve chosen to face my reality, and I am in a bit of a unique position this year, such that I feel like I can speak into this in more than just a philosophical way. Words are one thing, actions are a whole other thing ;-).
My Own “Reality Bite”
2020 has “bitten” me more than any other year of my life, and how I actioned my way through that reality has made a huge difference in my happiness and my effectiveness.
I began 2020 burying my big sister, who was also my best friend. I took her daughter under my wing for 3 months to help her transition to life without her mum. Our 3-month plan back in America turned into 2 months as we escaped the U.S. when Covid began. We flew out of LA the night the city was put on lockdown. I dropped everything to get her home to her Dad – my home, animals, friends, all of it. I knew as I was leaving that I was leaving 25 years of my life behind – just my daughter and my niece at my side. That it would potentially not be an option to return.
30 hours after liftoff I was catching a taxi with the girls to my mum’s house here in Invercargill, stopping only to visit my sisters grave before heading into 14 days of Traveler Quarantine.
A week later the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put the entire country of New Zealand into 4 weeks of “Level 4” lockdown – which basically translated to “Don’t leave your house unless you need food or a doctor!”. We weren’t even allowed to drive to a trail to go walk. If we couldn’t walk, bike or run to a location that wasn’t a supermarket or the hospital, we weren’t allowed there, and even when we were we weren’t allowed near anyone else.
A Hard Reality with a BIG Payoff
Some of you may know the “success” those weeks of self-quarantine was for the country. New Zealand’s “hardline” policy is an International standard for the successful management of Covid. And ALL this without the use of masks. It might sound utopian, but it was ALSO a good example of reality “biting”. Many small businesses suffered, like my favorite café down the street that never re-opened. Thousands of people lost their jobs, and right at the beginning of a long, cold, dark winter here in these sub-antarctic islands.
Kiwis are known for their resilience though, and as hard as life can be we are very good at pulling our bootstraps up and “getting on with it”. That is also reality here.
While we’ve spent the last 6 weeks enjoying the benefits of Level 1 – where the only thing that isn’t normal is the international border – I’ve had the added experience of losing one of my best friends back in LA, who like my sister died of Cancer, but unlike my sister spent the majority of his last days alone at home due to LA’s own covid lockdown.
Then, as if that weren’t enough, my aunt passed away last week, leaving my mother (her sister and best friend) utterly devastated. Not to mention my cousins her children, her teenage grandchildren, and her aging and very frail widow.
Sometimes reality can bite and also allow us to heal
To say that the load of “things to deal with” right now is “a lot” would be a gross understatement. If you’d told me a year ago that this would be my reality I would have said “Pull over I’ll just get out and walk”. I would not have believed that I could handle all of this, not in a million years.
And yet aren’t we all so much more capable than we think?
I continue to administer my sister’s affairs on behalf of her family, along with supporting my mother in her loss, along with supporting the mutual friend back in LA who is charged with clearing out our friends home and handling his affairs. From organizing funerals and memorials to grocery shopping for my widowed uncle, to homeschooling my daughter. ALL of this new and in addition to what was already on my “busy” plate.
FAR down the list for me is the covid situation, the fact I can’t get back home for perhaps another 6 months – but must continue to pay to keep everything running, and the fact that I’m living out of a suitcase shacked up in my mother’s spare bedroom with my ten year old.
This ENTIRE year has been nothing but an exercise in deep breathing and surrender to what IS. Death presents a reality that we cannot, no matter how hard we try, change.
Reality as a Catalyst to Growth
You’ve probably heard this before, but these are also the times that really truly shape us. Times when you have no option but to surrender to what is.
Do you know what happens when you do surrender? Life. Life moving forward anyway. Despite you. Because it will.
Let Go, or Be Dragged. Never better words than those.
We can spend our days – no matter what the tragedies – and we all have them – thinking “What the hell! Get off 2020! “, or we can spend them focused on putting one foot in front of the other, and however slowly, persevering. It doesn’t take too long before you look up, and see that you’ve actually journeyed quite far, and that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been had you focused on where you were versus where you want to be. No sense in that anyway, we don’t know where this thing is going.
Reality is really messed up right now, and no matter what side of the endless debates and sensitivities you come down on, no matter what the tragedies you’ve experienced this year, I can tell you that you can make it through. You can if you just take one step at a time. Try not to look at the big messy picture, the one that no one has a good idea of anyway.
“Bless the Mess”
As it stands, I cook extra dinner to include my Uncle Lloyd every night now, and drive it round the corner to him. Tomorrow I’ll negotiate with contractors and landscaping people at my dead sister’s house. I’ll help gather pictures for my LA’s friend’s memorial service. I’ll give at least half a dozen hugs to my mum as we pass each other, and in addition to all that I’ll work on looking after Blumvox Studios. Somewhere in there I’ll spend time with my sweet little girl, and we’ll enter into Month 4 living out of our suitcases.
Reality does bite, and it blesses too. I know I must choose to see the blessings by focusing on the moment to moment. The small sweet things and the simple joys like sheepskin slippers. Not the overall size of the things I’m tasked to manage, like death and whole-house renovations.
In those mindful spaces life IS, for all of us, alive and well.
My hope for you
I wish you the kind of sight that doesn’t need to look too far into a distant and murky future. I hope you’ll draw inward and focus on what you can control and be present to. The things immediately in your vicinity.
I trust that if you do choose to put one foot in front of the other, irrespective of the distance or the difficulties that might be ahead, that in the small moments you’ll find things that bring you joy, just like when things were “normal”.
I know that you’ll notice things you can appreciate, and because life is energy and like attracts like, you’ll also enjoy the ineffable way that life delivers appreciation back to you. That is how it’s been for me.
Life is. Live it as best you can from where you are. If you look into nature you see it acting no different than it was 6 months ago.
Living. Even amidst the Loss.
Many of our Teaching Series students found Class 36 with Rob Paulsen to be a wealth of insight and comfort, as many know Rob battled and won against Cancer a few years back. Rob’s Book “Voice Lessons – How a couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac saved my life” is available here.
Reirani joined Blumvox in 2016 and is Steve’s Assistant for Travel and Convention Appearances as well as Marketing Co-Ordinator of Blumvox Studios, home of Steve’s wildly successful Voiceover Teaching Series. You can find her each month playing housekeeper in the live online classes with Steve and Special Guests.
She enjoys writing, teaching, and adventures with her daughter at “the edge of the world”, otherwise known as New Zealand.
Hey, Reirani. Just wanted to let you know that I find you – your messages, your great organization and your attitude – really inspiring. I hope we get to work together some day, whether in front of the mic or doing back-office or marketing work. I’m in California but since so much is online anyway, perhaps we’ll have an opportunity some day. Meanwhile, take good care. – Michele
Hi Michele, that’s so kind of you thank-you! We’re so spread out now that it seems like it really won’t matter much anymore at all – this geo-location thing 😉 One thing I’m VERY grateful for is the internet and our connectivity. Thanks again and take care! See you “on the road” 😉
I am so, so, so sorry for your loss, Reirani. My big sister lives just 10 minutes away from me, and I couldn’t imagine life without her. As a 2020 graduate, I had my whole senior year stolen away from me. The talent show, the choir concert, the last play, Prom, graduation, everything. I miss my friends, and I still sometimes wish I was in high school still so I could see them all I again. I guess I’ll wait for the reunion. I miss my family members even more. The big sister whom was aforementioned I have not seen since February. March was supposed to be a time of happiness for our family, since my big brother was getting married. They had to call off the wedding. They then had a zoom wedding, where my brother’s side of the family watched in our homes, since his wife’s family lived where they did, but we didn’t. It hurt us to not be there, but we’re still so happy for them. Anyway, a lot has happened this year, and I’m so glad that this feeling of love and family has been spread around, especially here, despite our separation. So I thank you all for that, and I especially want to thank Reirani, since this probably wasn’t very easy to write.
Wow Saffron, that is SO much to have to deal with, thank-you for sharing and I’m sorry that you had something so pivotal – your senior year and graduation – removed from you. The thing that really does seem to make this all easier for many of us is that we’re ALL going through losses of one kind or another. In that there is comfort and a shared experience, even as the details can look different. We’re really all in this thing together.
thank you for sharing this wonderful insight. todays reality changes from day to day in all of the craziness with Pandemics and presidencies, racial injustice and abuse of power seems to be more prevalent than ever before, eventhough we are supoosed to be getting better as a whole over time. When the world depresses me, i turn to my art. VO, Music, family etc. thank you! .
Yes indeed! We’re lucky to have those creative outlets that no one can take from us as they are inherently PART of us. Thanks for your take as always Heath, best to you and your family.