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A Guided Meditation for Pandemic Anxiety (As Approved by Our Lord Xanthalu)

Effie Seiberg is a fantasy and science fiction writer. Her stories can be found in the "Women Destroy Science Fiction!" special edition of Lightspeed Magazine (winner of the 2015 British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology), "The Best of Galaxy's Edge 2015-2017," Analog, Fireside Fiction, and PodCastle, amongst others. Her stories include a finalist in the AnLab Awards and an honorable mention in the Year's Best YA Speculative Fiction. Effie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she likes to make sculpted cakes and bad puns. You can find more of her work on effieseiberg.com, or follow her on twitter at @effies.

*******Editor's Note: Triggering: For all of us.*******
Welcome to the Pandemic.
It's a stressful time, isn't it? But by participating in this guided meditation, you're already taking the first step for self-care. Congratulations.
(Another form of self-care is worshipping Our Lord Xanthalu, Eater of Worlds, but we'll get to that later.)
Close your eyes and breathe in for 3... 2... 1....
And let it out in a sloooow breath.
Remember that even though these are hard times, you're a strong person who can get through them. Platitudes like these will get you through when the actual tools you'd expect, like a government that cares and a social safety net that can handle such disasters, don't exist.
(Our Lord Xanthalu will never let you down.)
Feel your inner strength and reach up into the sky for 3... 2... 1....
And let the crushing weight of your existence in an unfeeling world bring your arms down towards your feet for 3... 2... 1....
Remember that even in difficult times, it's important to take note of the small things and appreciate them.
Let the gratitude for your copious rolls of toilet paper suffuse through you as you reach out to both sides as wiiiide as you can for 3... 2... 1....
And let the horror of the memories of subbing in a coffee filter collapse your frame. Push your arms inward and hug yourself as tight as you can for 3... 2... 1....
(If you are already a worshipper of Our Lord Xanthalu, Destroyer of Galaxies, now is a good time to take a deep breath of gratitude for Him, too.)
You might be carrying some economic anxiety. If you still have a job, feel grateful that your employer is making you risk your life in order to make rent. If you don't have a job, feel glad that you can ride this out safely at home in your PJs until the eviction moratorium expires. If you have a job and can work from home, congratulations on your employment at Google.
Make peace with your growing credit card debt as you breathe in for 3... 2... 1....
And then remember that Jeff Bezos is likely to become a trillionaire from this pandemic, and let that fact punch you in the gut as you let out the breath in one... long... whoosh.
Feel grateful for the privileges you do have, like being able to go out and get groceries instead of being high-risk and not able to leave the house at all. Or be glad if the police hand you a mask instead of kneeling on your neck for not wearing one. Or thank the universe for the privilege of not caring about others' lives and safety while you protest with a big gun and sign that says, We Want Haircuts.
For any unprivileged aspect of your life, try nihilism, which comes naturally with worship of Our Lord Xanthalu, Shredder of Universes.
Radical acceptance of the anguish, when there's nowhere better to go, is good for your mental health. Our Lord Xanthalu can help. If you have reached this step, you are ready to accept Our Lord Xanthalu into your heart.
Let the meaninglessness of your existence suffuse you from the top of your head alllll the way down to your toes, relaxing each muscle as you go. Offer gratitude to Our Lord Xanthalu for showing us that despair is the way.
Repeat this mantra, once for each of His thousand tentacles:
"This is fine"
Imagine the world burning down from His laser-eye blasts, including the homes of the powerful who laughed off the pandemic in early days as a hoax, costing hundreds of thousands of lives. Focus on the shapes of the flickering flames.
"This is fine"
Imagine the peacefulness of acceptance. Acknowledge that a small cruel minority is endangering the lives of everyone else and there's nothing you can do about it because your survival, and the survival of people like you, is not politically convenient. Let go of the idea that justice matters. Our Lord Xanthalu, Annihilator of Reality, is the only justice you need.
"This is fine"
Imagine the black void of nonexistence, which is where we're all headed as the country opens up long before enough folks are vaccinated to reach herd immunity, much less have any plan for disturbing new virus variants. It's quiet and calm in Lord Xanthalu's void, where his tentacles gently suffocate any screaming and his three hundred teeth grind anyone who howls into nonexistence.
"This is fine"
Now slowly open your eyes and come back to your surroundings.
There. Doesn't that feel better? Thank Our Lord Xanthalu! Everything is going to be fine.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Author Comments

We all lived through 2020. I found myself filled with horror not as much by the pandemic itself, but by people's callous indifference to it and to each others' lives. While I normally write lighthearted whimsical stuff, suddenly all my fear and rage was poured into this piece to write something dark and twisted. We're not out of the woods yet, and I'm hoping everyone has a coping mechanism to deal with what's going on.

- Effie Seiberg
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