I started this blog mostly as a way of helping me navigate my own way through what feels to be an extreme and shocking change to everyday life and the very real fear of an illness that is so little understood. I also figured that, as someone who struggles with mental health and is wiling to discuss the effects of the pandemic on my mental state, I might be able to offer some comfort to anyone who feels the same way. Or at the very least, I figured I could provide some regular reading for anyone who was interested. And so my writing is directed at both my inner state and the larger world.
And today I want to talk about the larger world, particularly the parts that I have connection to, that I can impact as an individual.
I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood here in San Franciso where we all know each other’s names, and the names of children and grandchildren, and pets, and the make and model of everyone’s cars so we can remind each other about street cleaning days. It’s a neighborhood in which those of us who are young(er) and healthy have taken to running errands and getting groceries for our elderly and immunocompromised friends. It’s a neighborhood where exchanges of homemade baked goods happen regularly, where music is shared through open windows, where an unexpected shipment of antiseptic wipes is distributed to 5 other households.
There are things I can do to help this little world – the aforementioned grocery trips, checking in on people no-one has seen for awhile, sending funny videos and making phone calls to those who cannot leave their apartments, holding my fear at bay so I can continue to participate in the activity of this little microcosm.
Fear and uncertainty can lead in different directions – perhaps the easier path, the one of least resistance, is to turn inward, to bunker down, to find safety in isolation, to protect what we consider our own. But the second path – looking outward, seeking connection even in fraught times, being available to those in need, sharing our resources – this is more challenging work, but ultimately what will truly nurture us.
So I have no question for you today, but rather a task, one that I’ll also take on:
Do something wonderful for someone else, no matter how small. For friends, or neighbors, or a stranger in need. I remind myself daily that monumental change comes from the incremental choices and actions that we, collectively, make every day. I hope you’ll join me.