The governor of New Hampshire announced today that public schools in the state will be closed through the end of the school year. The rumor started a few days ago, but now that it is official, I find myself slipping into melancholy. Not for my personal loss, but for a collective loss that is made up of so many individual forms.
A few days ago I listened to a podcast of Brené Brown interviewing David Kessler called “On Grief and Finding Meaning,” called to my attention by my dear friend Carol. During the interview, Kessler talks about the individuality of grief and loss, and how there is no way to compare one loss to another. He talks about how each loss holds meaning particular to the individual, whatever that loss might be. We are in the midst of so much loss, in this time of rebirthing, that sometimes the collective weight feels overwhelming.
This morning I woke from another dream about school. More nights than not, during the course of this pandemic, I am pulled into a classroom of some form. Ones that I have once attended, and ones I have never visited before. What seeks emergence struggles with a past I seem to be holding onto and can’t quite free.
Before this afternoon, when I read the message about the school closures, I had been thinking of my school dreams in terms of the “I.” What do they mean for me? I wondered. What is it that I need to learn that I have not learned? Perhaps, though, these dreams are not just about me, as most things, in essence, are not. Perhaps they are about all of us.
This morning I was telling a friend about a “Mr. B” that has now shown up at least twice in these series of dream, pondering what he might symbolize. Each time he’s appeared, I’ve thought of the character/archetype in the enneagram used in the Silent Eye School of Conscious sometimes referred to as “Plan Bee.”
Plan Bee’s ego adores the material world and accumulating stuff. If he was a suit in Tarot, he would be the pentacles. At some point in life, though, the “stuff” we accumulate becomes a burden and even a curse through the mind’s obsession. Addiction can only be tempered by sobriety.
At this time in our shared history so much of what we once held dear is being pulled away from us. The material world we have created is crumbling. In so many ways, we are being called to go without as we go within.
The world, in essence, is one big classroom of which we are all students. The structure of our school is changing. There is simply no denying it. Literally and symbolically. The facade has broken apart and we are being ushered into a new learning ground. Although the circumstances may be felt individually, we are all, young and old, being called to a chalkboard we have never quite seen before. The formula is only partially written, the solution, yet to be derived.
When I asked my daughter if she was upset that she will not be returning to the physical structure of her school until at least the fall, she told me “not really” because she knew it was coming. Some of her friends, though, are deeply upset. They are grieving the loss of the familiar. Of something they held dear that has been taken away. Even though my daughter says she’s okay, I know she is still grieving. She’s been feeling her losses, as all of us have, since the pandemic started shifting reality.
Tomorrow is my son’s fifteenth birthday and none of us are entirely sure how to celebrate it. Cards have been arriving all week, now strewn in quarantine along the dining room buffet, they will be opened tomorrow with just the four of us present. We’ll order some takeout for dinner, and my daughter and I will make a cake, but otherwise, it will be a quiet occasion. So many celebrations are being condensed around the hearth fire now. Graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births, and yes, even deaths. Too many for us to want to count.
I think we owe it to ourselves to grieve and to feel each loss. To hold it in our hands, and cradle its essence, before we release it back to creation. We owe it to ourselves to feel its weight, before we let it go. To cry and scream if need be. To rage at fragility as we dig deeper into the core of our enduring strength. That is what makes us humans. We cling to the corporeal before we lose it. The beauty before it fades, the victory before it is over. We are temporary bodies who often forget we house eternal souls. Yet, even Plan Bee, Master of Pentacles, can realize the beauty of the free soul when he steps through the (always) open gate of the classroom. Wholly free of that which once held him back.