I am having a lot of conversations with friends and colleagues about ‘getting back’ to what some are calling the normal state of affairs before March, 2020; a “pre-pandemic-ness.” Others fervently argue we now live in a completely changed world that cannot be brought back — broken social systems, transportation, public spaces, relationships to strangers, since the virus and lockdown. No question that contents have shifted. But one based on hope and one based on fear is not the answer.
I think neither is absolute. Fact is we need each other to navigate out of the middle.
After my cancer in 2017 and the subsequent decade of tests and scans and oncology visits ahead of me, I had to choose something besides fear. Lying awake, wondering if my life was balanced by days instead of years, I also realized I had been invited to live. So each and every morning that I awake up, I review what I can do for myself and the world around me. Here are some.
Give: in this broken and beautiful world I am here and so many are living less privileged lives than me. I can affect them in simple ways — make a sandwich, put it in your pocket or bag and when you see a homeless person, hand it to them and wish them a good day. Call a friend you haven’t seen or talked to since 2020. Stand in the rain with an umbrella. Offer it.
Generate: give to places that make you happy: church, town bench fund, beach clean up fund, immigrant families in need of clothes. Any amount. They need to keep the heat on, put boots on the ground, save others. Be the example. Tell others.
Go: to your favorite places, masked, sanitized, and fill them with your presence. So many community spaces lie empty or filled with so few people they despair for their future. Do you like to sit in a church and think? Do you love the library? How about that family-run taco truck? Be the hybrid, safe and present. Religion is just one piece of what the space in a church has to offer. Go find the peace in a park. Eat tacos that allow that family to eat.
Gush: over anything anybody is doing to cope. We made it. Celebrate the vast achievement. Accept the beautiful and broken world. Watch a bird on the wire overhead. Contemplate a red leaf. Walk the stairs and feel your heart beat hard. Put your mask on when required. Laugh a little at how good we are at this now.
Adopt a new state of consciousness that complies with the realities of public health. Public health and safety is a real thing now. While it isn’t the same, every time I leave the house, to remember to pack a mask and sanitizing wipes, sit six feet apart for music, theater, dance, all the beauty and music in the world is trying to happen for us. Give it your love. Can you imagine if it did not come back?
Take care of your community. Walk around. Sit in a pew. Drink coffee on a bench. Emerge safely.
Everyone needs you. I need you.