Do you remember that R.E.M. song? “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” We played that song at every dance in high school. We would bop around, trying to impress each other by singing along, and not seeing it for its apocalyptic vibe.
Well, if there’s a sign of an apocalypse coming, perhaps the harbinger is that we’re hoarding toilet paper.
A few days ago, we went to Sam’s Club right before it opened, which is the place we go around here to buy food in bulk for savings. The line was already rounding the side of the building. As we made our way inside, throngs of people were already headed toward the paper aisle. Everyone was orderly and the staff (bless ’em) were rationing out one bulk pack per club member. You could see the triumph on each person’s face as they pushed their carts around the store, their toilet paper already secured.
I need to clearly state that I have never feared running out of toilet paper in my life. I still don’t understand it. I don’t get the frenzy around this particular item. And yet, there we were, standing in line with all others, waiting for our rationed toilet paper supply. And oddly, once we got ours, I too felt a sense of… accomplishment? satisfaction? relief?
As I made my way around the store, I noticed the other items that were being rationed. Chicken, ground beef, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies. (Thankfully, not the wine!) I also noticed the items that were popular and, therefore, not well-stocked. Pasta, ready-made sauces, frozen foods. (Again, the wine was plentiful!)
But I also saw loads of veggies, fruit, and even fresh pastries. And this reminded me that we have enough of what we need, and many times, we have much more than we need. Seeing fresh things makes me happy, and when I’m feeling content inside and not driven to panic, I tend to make solid, reasonable choices. So, I resisted buying more than a reasonable amount of anything. I decided that I didn’t need more than one bulk pack of chicken. I decided that I didn’t need more ground beef when I have four pounds in my freezer already. I have gone to the store more than once this past week. I have the makings of probably three weeks’ worth of quality dinners. I am resourceful with ingredients and we are well-fed. We will be okay.
Maybe someone else needs to hear this, so I’ll say it again. We will be okay. And if you can’t embrace the collective sentiment or future tense, then try this: In this moment, I am okay. In this moment, I have enough. In this moment, I am enough.
It’s amazing how tuned in we are to the energy of others. Their worry. Their anxiety. Their panic over toilet paper. It’s amazing how contagious it is. Chaos creates more chaos. Intensity and panic do the same. They don’t call it mob mentality for nothing.
But the same is also true. Peace creates more peace. Calm creates more calm. When we are centered in ourselves, peaceful, and calm, that energy makes its way out into the world, people feel it when in your presence, and life flows around you in harmony. What we need more than anything right now is to create contagious peace, both within us and around us.
I’ve been focusing these last few days on all of the blessings in my life. My family, for one, who I’m spending a lot of time with lately. We are getting into a rhythm, figuring out how to listen to ourselves, and do what we feel we need to at any given time. We are giving ourselves breaks from news, especially when it overwhelms us. We are checking in with our extended family enough, but not too much. We are doing the same with friends. We are following uplifting, peaceful, reasonable people on social media, and we are disconnecting when we don’t get that vibe. We are reading, watching movies, listening to music, playing games. We are building legos and puzzles, and we are drawing. We are practicing piano and choir music. We are thinking about learning new things, like a language perhaps. We are researching things of no critical importance. We are journaling and writing. We are meditating. We are laughing. And we are enjoying our cooking with the plentiful, yet reasonable stores of food we have in our home. In short, we are doing soul-soothing work.
But most of all, we are giving thanks for the plentiful bounty and blessings in our lives. Because, just as peace is an antidote to chaos, gratitude is an antidote to fear.
It’s not the end of the world. We have toilet paper and fresh vegetables and wine. We feel fine.