Physical, Not Social Distancing

We can still be social. We can still connect, communicate and care.

Posted Mar 19, 2020

Since the emergence of the coronavirus, we have been living through a moment in time. Notice that I didn’t say a terrible or terrifying moment. It is simply a moment; a word that occurs as benign … until we add an adjective. Until we give it meaning through language.

The words we use are powerful. They not only describe reality; they create it. As such, language requires responsibility. When we become aware of its power and impact, we realize the importance of using it mindfully, and wisely.

I see the power of language in my work every day. Singers who believe notes are ‘high’ create physical tensions and lifts that are unrelated to the horizontal vibratory nature of the vocal mechanism. Those who think and say that singing is ‘hard’ aren’t reflecting reality; they’re creating it.

Fortunately, language’s power can be as much help as hindrance. Imagining our voices as kites soaring through the air—with our fear and desire to control far below—creates mental and physical space that allows them to truly soar. Envisioning a note as an enormous wall to intend toward, rather than a tiny bullseye we must narrowly hit alters the way that ‘pitch’ occurs to us and, as a result, how we interact with it.

Just as we are what we eat, we integrate what we consume, including the language we choose to listen to and use. Focusing on the positive and using language to that end informs our experience. Just as mental and linguistic pessimism breeds more of the same.

Certainly pandemics and recessions require strength of character, patience, and practicality. And we need to remain informed. Yet the hysteria of the 24-hour ‘breaking news’ cycle isn’t helpful; its fearful and panic-laden language doesn’t further prepare us. It disempowers and disables us.

Prudence and professional recommendations dictate that we stay 6 feet apart from one another. But there has been no mandate regarding our remaining close. We can still be social. We can still deeply connect, communicate with, and care for one another. 

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