Collapse the Gap to Banish the Monster Under the Bed

By Tami Sulistyo

July 4th, 2020

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Independence day in the USA. Feels and acts very different than it ever has before. So much to be concerned about in the United States and across the world this year. It doesn’t seem we have much to be festive about at the moment. Celebration has been replaced by a whole lot of worry.

Normally I would be on Nagshead Beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina today, as I have every 4th of July since 2013. Digging my toes into hot sand, watching waves roll magnificently into shore, listening and contributing to the sounds of my family and others laughing and playing. I love that life, and am incredibly grateful for it. I miss it terribly and sure hope to find myself there kayaking alongside a school of dolphins in 2021 like I was last year.

In sharp contrast, this 4th of July I am in Minnesota and we have an uninvited and unwelcome guest. Covid has come to our family, having showed up a week and a half ago, settling in without so much as an apology for busting in and turning everything upside down.

Now many days into quarantine, it looks like perhaps Lady Luck joined Mr. Covid for his temporary stay with us, as only 1 out of the 5 of us seems to have the virus. Pure luck, as my brother pointed out, since we were all exposed. We had been so very careful since mid-March, following all the recommendations to a “T” for staying safe and out of Covid’s way. And then June came, with Minnesota loosening restrictions a bit. The shelter in place phase was easier because it was so cut and dry.

Now it can feel a bit confusing to figure out what we should and shouldn’t do. If it had been anyone else other than immediate family, I would never have ridden in a car together at all much less without masks on. But it was Father’s Day and one of our adult daughters, who lives on her own in an apartment, came over and we did ride together, without masks on, in a car 19 minutes to and from my cousin’s place, for an outdoor, physically distanced picnic. Turns out our daughter and her four roommates had all been recently exposed to Covid by two close friends before any symptoms showed up, and when we were together no one knew yet.

Our daughter got tested for Covid four days after her exposure and received the good news that it was negative. Two days later she and other roommates were experiencing symptoms, got retested and sure enough, they did have Covid. Thankfully they are all recovering well enough so far, and the rest of us are nearing the end of the 14 days of quarantine without any symptoms. We will get tested to be certain. For this seeming independence and freedom – from Covid, for now, and for our daughter’s seemingly ok process of recovery, we are extremely and humbly thankful. So there you have it, this is what we are celebrating this 4th of July, from behind the curtain of quarantine.

Lesson learned? I now truly believe it is best to always assume that everyone, including you, and me, has Covid, all the time. That way nothing is confusing or unclear. Wear a mask. Wear a mask. Wear a mask. Physically distance. Wash and disinfect. Just do it. Please. I will. Even with family, be careful. I learned my lesson. Please. Covid is so very real.

This last week and half while we have waited to see if we have Covid, and have hoped and prayed each day that our daughter and her friends do not have any serious or lasting effects from Covid, has been time filled with worry, and what if’s, and the unknown. A wise person said to me, “Don’t pay interest on a loan you haven’t taken out” – asking me to try not to act as if worse case potential outcomes had actually come to pass, when instead they are nothing more than an unknown future possibility that does not yet exist, and may not become reality.

My meditation teacher said to me “Collapse the Gap” – advising me that when my imagination starts to get the best of me and I begin to obsess in my mind about possible worse case scenarios that could potentially happen down the road, and start to freak out, I should try to catch myself and collapse the gap between the reality of right now and the non-reality of whatever I am imagining could happen. He then said that any time this happens, I can say to myself “collapse the gap” and then do something to get really and fully present in the moment, to shake off the worry and obsessing.

To close that gap, to get focused on current reality and shoo away the imaginary negative future outcome, I have been putting on really good music I love that fills me with hope, energy, and happiness. For me it is my favorite Christian songs. What is it for you? I have taken to wearing my apple watch and air pods almost nonstop, so I can press play and start dancing or relaxing to my playlist at a moment’s notice. It is working for me and has been a saving grace these last 11 days.

Happy Independence Day. Wear a Mask. Collapse the Gap. And many Blessings to you.

As a leadership and career coach, and mom of four, Tami Sulistyo loves traveling, photography, kayaking & reading mystery novels in her hammock. “You decide every moment of every day who you are and what you believe in. You get a second chance, every second.”

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