In an article published in November in The New York Times, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and an American member of the British royal family asked the question: Are you okay?” I was recently asked a similar question, “Is Everything Okay?” And my answer, probably like millions of Americans, was, no everything is not okay
Yet, the truth is, despite the worse pandemic in modern history, my daily life is fine. I still have a passion for my work, my family and the people I care about. I am living a fairly balanced, holistic lifestyle which is well suited to my highly sensitive nature. I have enough time. Time to process, time to be alone and in nature, spiritual time, exercise and even animal time. The one thing missing is in-person visits with close friends and extended family members, but am also happy to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash my hands frequently. I am grateful that the citizens where I live, in Northern Colorado, for the most part, embrace these health guidelines as well.
No, All Is Not Okay
Pondering this more deeply as we HSPs do, I realize the part of me that is not okay is my priestly advisor self. Elaine Aron describes the priestly advisor role as one in which the HSP “teaches, counsels, advises, heals, keeps the history in words or art forms, envisions the future, thinks about the meaning of life and death, leads rituals, studies the subtleties of nature or law and puts the brakes on the more impulsive warrior kings. (The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook (1999.)
Normally, I am a fairly optimistic person, always hopeful, always seeing the glass as half full. But this year is drastically different. Like millions of others, I have experienced more feelings of anxiety, despair, disappointment, anger, and sadly, disconnection from my fellow Americans than ever before.
A Year To Dig Deep
I have lost some of my hope and faith in what I thought was the goodness of the American people. Except for perhaps, the Civil War, and/or the Civil Rights movement, I do not remember so much vitriol and divisiveness pitting us against each other. Where have our common values of compassion and empathy gone? We are exhausted from conflicting opinions about what is true and not true, what science tells us and what some of our leaders or unknown YouTubers tell us.
And it seems, no one wants to talk about grief. Instead, we watch another Netflix series, drink another glass of wine. What if, instead, we all decided to call just one friend and ask: “Are you okay?” Listening to the stories of grief, loss, confusion, sadness, or angst could be the beginning of lightening the burden so many are feeling right now.
I have had to dig deep this year to find my hope, not to mention my joy. I’ve found it in a daily spiritual practice, mindfulness, and gratitude for the constants in my life: the way the sun shines in my living room each morning as I drink my coffee; the beautiful sunrises and sunsets here in Colorado, my grandchildren and the many connections via Zoom.
We Are The Hope
With hopeful eyes, I can see many, including the HSP priestly advisors, stepping forward to be heard in a new way. I can see there are many people working to be part of the solution. I am grateful for the millions of health care and essential workers who put their lives on the line every day. I find a bit of hope when I see bumper stickers that say: “God bless the whole world.” I find a bit of hope when I see alternative fuel vehicles on the highway and when I see wind farms in Wyoming. I definitely feel hopeful when I see many HSPs connecting with one another from around the world, and I see many lives changed by support, education and wisdom shared by empowered priestly advisors.
So, yes, sometimes we must work a little harder to clear our eyes and see the signs of hopefulness. What might you be hopeful for in the New Year, 2021? What priestly advisor visions are you ready to make a reality?
As Meghan Markle so poignantly shared: “…when people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes light for all of us.” Maybe this is the first step toward healing.
Image: Kouji Tsuru - Unsplash