In support of vices

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook about how meditation was failing someone, because their childhood friend had died the day before and they couldn't stop feeling bad about it.

I'm not a meditation expert, but I'm pretty sure that's not how meditation really works.

Or maybe it is how it's supposed to work. In Greetings from Utopia Park, the narrator takes drugs for the first time and finally experiences the bliss her parents have spent their lives chasing through transcendental meditation.

Don't worry, I did not suggest the OP turn to drugs or binge eating or whatever other unhealthy coping mechanism might distract them from grief.

My social media feeds (and text messages) have filled up with people embarking on all sorts of new #selfcare practices to distract them from the current pandemic. Which is great! But it's also giving me a steady stream of reminders that pretty much anything can be turned into something unhealthy.

There are obvious benefits to taking up running or meditation or deep cleaning your apartment or cooking everything 'from scratch.' But you can't outrun (or out meditate) your emotions. At least not forever.

How many diets are just trendy eating disorders? How many people are doing crossfit as an alternative to self harm? How much quarantine baking is chasing after a certain feeling of superiority?

There is no optimal version of life. All we can do is figure out what feels right to us in this moment, under these circumstances.

Maybe that is meditation or baking or working out. But just because something gets the stamp of approval as a "healthy" behavior doesn't mean it can't be turned into something problematic.

And something "unhealthy" -- like a glass of wine or a bag of gummy bears or an afternoon napping instead of cleaning -- can also be just what you need right now.

Lots of distractions can be healthy. But so can grief.

PS. Right now there's a lot of debate over the right way to combat the coronavirus without requiring a complete overhaul of our society.

There's a lot of second hand information insisting that "the other side" wants the vulnerable to die because they're evil jerks. When I talk to those jerks, they turn out to be kind people with a different interpretation of the situation we're dealing with and what should be done about it. Which seems reasonable, given that there is so much incomplete and contradictory information out there.

It's comforting to know that while we deal with this novel virus and all of the havoc it's causing, we are not uncovering some proof that humans are a species of sociopaths. We may not agree, but we're all doing our best. Despite what the headlines and memes might suggest.