This day… How Bente deals with the disappearance of structure

What is going on at the moment, and how do we deal with all the changes? In this blog, someone from the Flow team shares how she is dealing with the current situation: both on a practical level and in her head. This time: Bente (online editor), who is rather attached to routine and structure, tries to deal with all the changes that are taking place and having to let go of control.

There is that heavenly minute of ignorance every morning when I wake up. A minute in which everything still seems the same and in which I know exactly what I feel and think. Then that minute tick-tick-ticks away, faster than time is supposed to go, and reality comes crashing in. Like an uninvited guest who suddenly has the key to my home. Even after a fortnight, I fall apart a little every day at 7:01 a.m., nevertheless.

Then I eat my regular breakfast at my regular time. I cuddle my cats like I always do, make my usual cup of tea, grab my agenda and some pens, and open up the laptop. I tap away at the keyboard until about 4 or 5 p.m., then shuffle away. I cook, I eat, I watch TV or I read. Then I go to bed.

I’ve been fooling myself with this routine for the past fortnight. Because although I perform my tasks as if everything was still the same, I, like many others, no longer feel the ground beneath my feet. Between every tap on the keyboard and every sip of my drink, the same thought pops up like an ever-beating drum: is this real, is this real, is this real?

But real it is. It is all true. I’m not watching some bad sci-fi flick from a pale red seat in the movie theater. This is real life, and the emotions that come with it are so real that I can almost touch them. While I didn’t expect it to have such an impact on me, my insides have turned into a rollercoaster that just keeps dropping down, down, down. Fear, panic and lack of knowledge are the stomach jitters that don’t seem to give me a break.

And every day at 7:02 am, I’ve been asking myself: How will I deal with the chaos of the day? Sticking to my routine is attempt number one, and pretending everything is the same is attempt number two. I’ve been writing all my thoughts down, mediating more often. I watch movies in which the characters are worse off than us, I read more and purchase some game or other on my iPad to distract me.

Now, after many unsuccessful attempts, I think I have found the answer to my question: there isn’t one. There you have it. I can frantically try to hold the reins, but the thing is that we can’t control something that is still beyond comprehension.

So I’ve decided I need to let go; here and now. I can – and I dare to – finally accept that in a time such as this, all I can do is to keep searching. For the positives (and there are more than enough of these, what with all those beautiful initiatives popping up), for the moments when my mind is calm, for a little something to hold onto, and for relaxation. And if I can’t find them for a while, that’s really okay. It’s actually very normal, in fact.

Even though, after all this time, there is still that blow at 7:01 am – and I know it will remain that way for a while – the change is in the minute after. I am no longer going to ask myself how I can keep everything the way it was as much as possible. Instead, I am going to shuffle into the living room and sit next to that uninvited guest and listen. And that’s enough for now.

Text Bente van de Wouw  Translation Julia Gorodecky