Saturday, April 4, 2020

Postcards from Hell

Lately this Wood Brothers’ song has been my go-to: Postcards from Hell

I really like the sound, but it’s these lyrics that keep drawing me in:
“When you ask him, how he sings his blues so well, he’ll say: I gotta soul that I won’t sell…and I don’t read postcards from hell.”
To me, this feels like a prescription for staying sane and real, and it seems like good advice for days especially like these that we're in. But what exactly is a "postcard from hell"?
My first thought was listening to people struggling in their own hard time, sharing the hell they’re going through. But immediately I knew: those aren’t postcards from hell at all. That’s some of the greatest soul food I know; it’s the chance to love, be compassionate, caring. Those postcards come from a place of vulnerability and connection that feels healing and restorative.
So then, looking around in this environment we’re in, I thought: what about these news reports coming from hospitals drowning during this crisis? What about the sobering stats and information aimed at keeping us at home, aimed at making us fear for ourselves and our loved ones so that we don’t continue to spread the virus? What about the judgments of those who refuse to stop and stay put amidst the warnings from our government and our medical establishments?
As I tossed around possibilities, I settled on the conclusion that the answer might be different for each of us.
Postcards from hell seem to be the stuff that we ingest that triggers our own personal hell. It’s the stuff that makes us afraid, makes us barricade, makes us hoard. It’s the stuff that brings us to that place that is small and isolated within ourselves, and it keeps us from being able the think clearly, intuit accurately, and evaluate the present moment as it actually is.
And so, besides washing my hands and being mindful of what I put into and on my body, my personal hygiene during these strange times will also include being especially careful to avoid reading my version of those postcards from hell.

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