When JOMO wears thin… what next?
In March I wrote a piece discussing cultivating JOMO- the joy of missing out, as a means to cope with the shelter in place order. Much of our lives we deal with FOMO- fear of missing out, and JOMO can be a counterbalance to that- where we discern what activities are worth the inherent risks. Maybe at this point, it might have made sense to expand your circle and activities, depending on your relative health and cost-benefit analysis.
I am proposing a new principle- neither the extreme of FOMO or JOMO, but a middle path: MODR8. Standing for “Move Onward Discerning Risks” & the 8 stands for the uncertainty principle, a sideways infinity symbol- we don’t know how long this pandemic will continue and we do not know for sure how successful our efforts at contagion prevention will be, but this may be a useful guiding acronym to navigate these questions.
The Buddha talked of the middle path being the best choice- neither veering to either extreme, but choosing each step judiciously and mindful of the principle of interdependence. Each choice we make has a ripple effect throughout our society. Each decision you make will alter the reality of our collective whole. If we are all mindful of this, we might be able to successfully navigate slowly reopening churches, schools, malls. We are continuing to offer our group classes (yoga, tai chi, fitness, and meditation) online via zoom, because we know it is uncomfortable to work out in a mask, but also unsafe to have many people unmasked breathing hard together, and yet we understand these practices may be your lifeline during this time. (Please feel free to join my morning meditation class three times a week).
If you come to see me in my office, I will wear a mask and ask that you do the same, because we do not know who the next patient in the space might be- a cancer survivor, an 80 year old with terrible back pain, or an immune-compromised child. We can move onward with your ability to meet your health management goals while discerning the risks inherent in you visiting my office, in me treating you, and in keeping the space clean and clear for the next patient. I promise to mindfully sanitize all surfaces and equipment, and space appointments appropriately to allow for proper ventilation between patients, and if we all use the MODR8 approach there is a high chance that more of our needs can be met.
I go home to my high-risk elderly father each night after treating patients, and although some have told me I should not be reopening in an effort to preserve his health, he understands and encourages me to meet the needs of the community. People are starving for touch, for care, for a reprieve from the isolation of quarantine. I believe it is possible to meet those needs and mitigate the spread of disease. That said, in the spirit of the MODR8 approach, I am beginning to see patients again and welcome you into the treatment room whenever you feel it is appropriate for you to return. Let’s be MODR8 in our push to reopen, and in our tendency to polarize the important discussions happening in our society. We are all in this together- let’s honor the principle of interdependence and choose each action mindfully, with compassion and wisdom.