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The Story

It was explained to me this way by a therapist-friend of mine: When we are blindsided by trauma – death, illness, accident, unexpected loss, or, in the case of 2020, a pandemic – many of us sort of slide into a “flatline” of depression. Oh, not the deep dark hole type of depression; just a shallow gray line of non-energy. We go through the motions of living each day, but a large part of us feels numb. The desire to curl into a fetal position for a long nap (hours? days? maybe weeks until all this is over?) is almost overwhelming.

Now that might not describe you, dear reader, and how you have been feeling through the global trauma of the past six months or so, but it certainly describes me. And yes, there have been good days spent with family and friends (with appropriate social distancing, of course). And yes, there have been lots of home-cooked meals, and lots of old movie-streaming, and long phone chats with relatives. Oh, and Zooming – lots and lots of Zooming.

And yet, underneath it all, there is a free-floating anxiety, a holding one’s breath, a prayer for “normal” again, whatever that was and no longer is.

So, for me, the feeling of being lost in this “flatline” is ever-present. Some days I can hold my own against it; other days not so much.

Yet, often when I least expect it, there is a gift of grace – a reminder that the natural world can lift us up, can hold us close, can heal what hurts. David Wagoner’s poem “Lost” was one of those gifts. Another was a lovely article that I came across yesterday – heartfelt, endearing, and hopeful: How My Family Discovered That Chickens Have Chickenality.

So I set aside the lost feeling for a few hours today. I stepped out into the forest that surrounds our home. I breathed in the greenery. Then I went back inside and tuned our piano (well, just two octaves, but that’s 42 strings!). Then I made blueberry scones. After that, I spent an hour bonding with our little cockatiel (the closest pet we have to chickens). I must admit, I don’t feel quite as lost right now.

Beaky, Our Cockatiel