Getting the Twisties

Gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the Olympics, and other gymnasts began explaining why. She had “the twisties,” which the Washington Post described:
“But then suddenly you’re upside down in midair and your brain feels disconnected from your body. Your limbs that usually control how much you spin have stopped listening, and you feel lost.”

I know that feeling.

Now, other than a brief stint in third grade when I mastered a proper somersault, I have never been a gymnast. But this describes how I’ve been feeling recently, and I imagine I’m not the only one. I began vacation in July, with a confident hope that things would be even better at the end of July. Joel Bercu, Mike Schultz, and C.T. Goss have been hard at work setting us up with a new a/v system for the sanctuary for live-streaming our services. Carrie and I have been working for a couple of months on our plans for the next church year. Beginning in September, we would be BACK, MAN. We were going to stick the landing!

But here we are. Upside down in midair. Feeling lost. And unlike the twisties, our feeling, based in the reality of a new covid surge with the Delta variant, has a cause. Because the population in our area has not gotten vaccinated at the rate needed to tamp down spread, we are once again looking at guidelines that say avoid indoor gatherings and mask up, even if vaccinated. Defeat was snatched from the jaws of success. And the cavalry, in the form of a vaccine for children under 12, won’t be on the horizon for several months.

How are you doing? How are you feeling?

We are not back where we were a year ago. There are both good and bad things in that.

On the good side: we’re not back at square one. Adults and youth can get the vaccine, and most of us have. We don’t have to sew masks, we can purchase them easily. We know we don’t have to bleach our groceries or “age” our mail.

But also … we probably are more emotionally worn down. My systems mentor Ken Shuman used the term “Anxiety Management Fatigue.” We have ways of managing our anxiety: being able to identify it, make choices based on our best thinking not our fears – we have a whole management process for dealing with our anxiety in a mature way.
But the low battery light on that process is blinking. We were just about to start recovering from the past 18 months when whammo. Delta variant. And so we’re trying to deal with these new/returned anxieties, but we may be finding it difficult. Anxiety Management Fatigue.

So what do we do?

Do like Simone. Take it day by day. Yes, she pulled out from last week’s competition, but she didn’t quit gymnastics. She didn’t even quit these Olympics. She took it day by day. She separated out what she couldn’t do, and what she could. She got back up on the balance beam and won a bronze medal, a medal she says that means more to her than the golds. And she took heart from all the people cheering her on for being her authentic self.

I’m cheering you on.