When we retired Kim and I had plans to explore Spain’s Mediteranian coast. We wanted to explore the beach towns and live like Gypsies moving from town and city for 3 to 6 months at a time. Through a process of selling, giving away and throwing out our accumulated stuff from 55 plus years of life we managed to get everything into two medium sized suitcases, two duffle bags, and two backpacks. We have just the bare necessities so that we can move without the hassles of trying to get an entire house of stuff to come with us. The first small coastal town we want to explore landed us a very luxurious, by European standards, high rise apartment that is right on the Mediteranean. It came with a one year lease and even though the lease was twice as long as we wanted to stay, we couldn’t pass up the sweet apartment. The property manager informed us that in Spain you can end a one year lease after six months without penalty. Apparently it is new legislation and some property owners don’t like it. Go figure, right? With a view as nice as this, and a climate as good as southern Spain’s, and just a six month lease, what could go wrong?
Included within our downsized and meager possessions are a deluxe dominoes set, travel size cribbage set, and a deck of cards. We need something to do on rainy days and when we’re not in the mood for mental stimulus from learning Spanish, reading Spanish news, or hearing about economics, and an hour of television, or two at most, can leave me feeling overly manipulated so we needed the games for those rainy days and down days when we can’t get out on the beach. Here we are today halfway into week five of the war with China’s virus in lockdown. Spain has taken draconian government steps and we cannot leave the apartment except to get food. We’ve watched the police and civil guards stop people to question why they are out of their homes. In some cases we’ve seen them take their IDs and sometimes they tell the people to go home. Most everyone tells the officers that they are heading to a nearby small grocery stores that are scattered throughout the town about one for every two or three blocks. At the beginning of week two of the lockdown the government began a policy of each family making one trip a week to the main supermarkets in the town. Kimber makes the once a week trek into the market for us. It’s a 3 kilometer walk to the main supermarket. But even so, we are finding after 3 weeks of isolation in this grand apartment with its spectacular view, and even though we enjoy dominos and listening to podcasts, learning Spanish, meditation, zumba on Youtube, reading, and… well we’re cabin fevered! Let me out. Even when I was on an 8 and 9 month cruise stuck on a ship in the Navy we would pull into port every few weeks.
Well I’m telling you we had to get creative and we couldn’t find a way to get a couple of gallons of mazola oil into the apartment. Besides there’s the mess a mazola party makes; It’s impossible to get all that oil cleaned up after the party. Seriously though, we like to play chess but the chess board and pieces take up a lot of room in the duffle bags so we don’t have it. We also like scrabble but it too requires space in the bags so we don’t have one. We’re not gen x so we don’t play game boy and axebox or whatever it’s called. One day as I was cruising through my Facebook feed, looking for a debate I explored the Facebook games feature and — look at that, there’s scrabble, poker, and chess. Electronic versions of the popular games. Yes, artificial general intelligence versions of the games and the option to play with real people too. Kimber and I sat back on that rainy evening and played chess and scrabble until the wine and whiskey were gone. It was so fun and we were so happy to have a distraction. Perhaps we can prevent the depression from weeks of house arrest. Even the terrific view from the balcony has started to become little more than a reminder of all the great beaches, hills and trails we used to enjoy daily and cannot now. Now though, now we have chess, scrabble, and poker. Three days, yes, three days later even these have no joy remaining.
“The world karma unfolding now is something we cannot predict or control – it is a force with an energy and lifespan of its own that will exhaust itself in its own time. However, we do have a choice. We have a choice in the kind of relationship we will forge with this karma. Will it be a relationship fraught with fear and anxiety — unsettled, ungrounded, and disconnected to any source of sanity and compassion? Or will it be a relationship that relaxes in the flowing energy of change, of emotional upheaval, of not-knowing?
Can we hold in mind and body the truth that we are meant to be here, now, to experience and feel all the energies surging around and through us? Can we recognize the truth that these energies are a radiant expression of love and of the beauty and tragedy of being human? When you sit, feel the earth. When you sit, feel the sky. Remember that you came here, that you took up this path to learn what it really means to be fully human, awake and aware, in suffering and in joy, holding still in the middle of fire.”
Lama Elizabeth Monson