• Ilan Cooley

the cannonball

Updated: Jul 15

"My untethered self, with a new window to the world, started to experience a feeling I had once known, that ended at childhood. It was messy at times, and not always happy or good, but it was real."

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Most things are a matter of perspective and if you want to change your perspective you often need to change your vantage point.

If you are like me, up until a few months ago you were not familiar with being sequestered. Whether we experienced a few limitations to our routines and freedoms, or a lot, there are likely very few people among us who did not encounter any interruption to their norm.


As we emerge from quarantine, there are stories abound about our experiences. Some people took up bread baking and re-discovered game nights, and family dinners. Others enjoyed naps, puzzles, and movie marathons. Many people found ways to stay connected with friends and loved ones, thanks to technological options to do so.

I have written about my head start on isolation and how some painful personal losses had sent me into premature hibernation about six months prior to the pandemic. I had just started to peek my head back out from underground when I was forced back down again. I had a lot of new coping skills that I started to fall back on. A lot of them worked, but there were many new obstacles I just couldn’t have possibly seen coming. My isolation writing has come primarily from my experiences prior to our collective lock-down. I have only just started to allow myself to reflect about how I fared during the situation we all found ourselves in together.

There were three things I couldn’t anticipate suddenly losing: the ability to travel, my business, and my support network. The Covid-19 pandemic took all three of those things in what seemed like an instant. It was like having a cannonball fired into my fortress, taking a direct and destructive hit to my foundation. I was understandably shook.

Cannonballs do what cannonballs do— they make a hole and leave a big mess. I have now realized that dealing with the aftermath is the part that required a change in perspective.

At 43 days I will admit to cracking up pretty bad. I had no direct human contact during that stretch of time and I hope I don’t repeat the streak any time soon. I thrive on energy and part of that comes from experiencing the world, both near and far. Some of it comes from the positivity and satisfaction of running my business. I have come to understand an even greater proportion comes from the wonderful support, love and camaraderie generated by human interaction, especially being around the people I care about, who care back. I now know I am not a solitary person, even though I appreciate a reasonable amount of alone time. I quite simply need people to thrive.

In the absence of the energy that fueled me, I started to feel physical ailments I have never experienced, but I also found I was strangely resourceful. I suppose it is the fight or flight adage, and let’s face it, we couldn’t fly even if we wanted to, so fight was my only option.

As I looked out the hole the cannonball made in my life, I realized it was a big, ugly, strange and unusual hole. I also realized it was a portal. I still don’t fully understand or accept the presence of my new window to the world, but I am trying to use it to see the parts of life and its possibilities that were not visible to me before.

One of the things I now know is I have enough support if I need it, and especially if I have the courage to ask for it. I have discovered what it is like to be untethered from my routine and the conventions that were the cocoon around me, and a net below me. I am not saying the removal of safety and security was all positive, but it forced me to stretch in ways I would not have if I remained protected and comfortable.


I started to reflect, read and learn. I took an intuition class that uncovered answers from within, and a social psychology class that broke apart long engrained fallacies about happiness. I invested time in conversations with people I may not have reconnected with if life was still at its usual pace, including a particularly fun night spent on zoom with some wonderful people I have known since childhood. My family also learned how to zoom. I made some small gains learning the guitar. I walked my dog more, and found ways to keep up my yoga practice and other workouts outside of group settings. I took naps and slept without worrying about when I had to get up.

I wrote.

My untethered self, with a new window to the world, started to experience a feeling I had once known, that ended at childhood. It was messy at times, and not always happy, or good, but it was real.

In just a few short weeks I had a hub for my writing and had launched a very authentic piece of myself out into the world through the cannonball hole. Maybe it was the part of me that needed less convention, and less routine, and less constraint. Maybe it was the part of me that needed to be set free.

This is me. There is beauty, truth, and simplicity in that.

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