It has been two years since the world entered the storm of a pandemic, and it’s still a bit unsettled even as the skies begin to break. April was a tempestuous month of stormy weather systems, rain, hail, sun, and sleet, sometimes all in the same day. The gloomy and damp weather with temperatures far below normal on our beautiful west coast has woken the sleeping beast of RA and invited a couple of new diagnoses to an all-night rave I didn’t want to host. Every morning I found a mess of confetti and streamers in my wake.
It has been a rocky couple of months for me and RA, but also for the rest of the world as we try to find our way back to a normal routine in the backwash of an ongoing pandemic. Chronic illness aside, people are noticing a heaviness in the air, a pall we can’t seem to lift – and yet the cherry blossoms are flushing the streets in a brilliant pink hue, tulips and crocuses are bursting into bloom in brilliant colors of yellow, reds and purple, and all that glorious life thriving amid the storm is planting seeds of optimism in me.
For two years we have each lived in the circle of our own inner sanctums, leaving the big wide world on the outside. Now the world is trying to creep back in again, swirling with uncertainty and overwhelming us with how fast it’s moving, but instead of trying to keep up with it, or worrying about being left behind, I chose to step into the eye and focus on just one day – one perfect day in the storm.
My life isn’t shaped by what is happening in the big wide world or by how quickly it’s changing. For me, life is about being present in the moment and lifting the blanket of expectation by giving myself a simple day in creative solitude. I shut off the television and the steady onslaught of social media. I took a hot bath, read a book, listened to some classical jazz; I sat on my patio and breathed in the mild fragrance of lavender, listened to the music of the hummingbirds’ wings, counted the raindrops cleansing the leaves. I didn’t think about what has passed and didn’t think about tomorrow. I didn’t think about RA or the ache in my shoulder. For the first time in a long time, I breathed in a world that I have always loved and still exists even though it’s hard to see through the clouds. With a little help from Mother Nature, I found the light in my own darkness. Right now, things are messy but it’s a beautiful vibrant mess and by taking control of one small day and focusing on the tangible things right in front of me, I find the vitality and strength to see my way forward.
The skies are clearing. Life is budding, bursting into the cosmos, inviting me to bloom along with it. The glorious spring sun makes its first appearance, washing over my pale skin, giving life to the freckles laying dormant beneath the clouds. There will always be storms, but just like those spring flowers facing the rain, I am bright enough to stand against the darkness because there will always be the glimmer of another perfect day lingering on the horizon.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.