There’s a section of our local newspaper called “Our Town” which features stories from the region where I live. Its writers are reporting on what we can do here in Northwest Arkansas to help others; give blood, foster pets from local shelters, pay others for services that you normally would if you have the financial ability to do so, order gift cards from area boutiques or restaurants. Another article outlines Arkansas’ musicians that are live streaming, how to support them as well as allow their music to entertain you and enrich the moment.
I’m sure other writers in other cities and states are doing the same.
Because a focus that can stave off a sense of dread is doing for others. Looking for what you have control over in this moment, rather than focusing on all that you simply don’t.
However, “our town” has expanded to “our state,” “our country” and “our world.” Even “our humanity.” Perhaps there are many whose way of thinking about life has always been more universal. Yet I realize that I’ve grown ever so much aware of the bonds between us. One deadly virus has caused most of us to realize how greatly the actions of one influence the lives of all.
This time the realization comes with pain. With fear. With sickness. With potential death itself.
I’ve listened as others are trying to handle both the enormity of their anxiety as well as the minute ways the threat of the corona virus is changing their lives. Trying to find humor. Trying to honestly answer a child’s question without creating panic. Trying to muster courage that seems elusive. Trying to stave off depressive thoughts that are lapping at the edge of their awareness, or are threatening to reach tsunami-like force. Trying to use the skills that were so painfully created by much earlier trauma in a constructive way. Trying to handle intense feelings when a loved one or a perfect stranger isn’t acting carefully. Trying to focus on the present when money is tight. Trying to help others when their own financial, emotional or mental resources are shaky. Trying to prevent anger or fear from creating even more chaos. Trying to design creative ways to structure their much less structured lives. Trying to corral worry about those who are on the front battle lines. Trying to not count the next breath as the first in what might so quickly become their last. Trying to trudge through grief if it comes.
Sometimes the best you can do is try.
Because that’s what makes you human. Caring. Noticing. Giving empathy. Reaching into your very being and trying to pull out the best you have to give at that moment.
There will be moments you don’t want to try. It’s easier to get mad. Or lash out. Or sink into sadness or helplessness. Get drunk. Or high. Or escape in some way.
Be in that moment. Then I hope you get up and try again.
I can only hope that I do the same. If I die — trying. Or if I live – trying.
My life will have meaning. No virus can take that away.
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