That seedling was the only one that sprouted from that tray. I found myself looking at that one seedling and marveling at it and the fact that it made it while the others didn’t. The simple decision I had to make was clear. Focus on the one seedling that made it or the others that didn’t. It hit me that life is like this, even parts of this pandemic are like this. That ‘ole half full/half empty dilemma.
Standing outside, taking a break from some planting, my neighbor and I were talking about the the state of affairs we are all living through. Our families, the issues involved in the public health crisis we are living through, and the those who have taken the different “sides” during this crisis as we watch it become increasingly political.
We wondered why this pandemic has become so divisive instead of being used as an opportunity to bring us together. We both realized that we were very confused over this because it makes no sense at all. But then we both agreed that this time we are living in goes against all that makes sense. We agreed that usually when horrible things happen people come together, form community and help each other. While in our local communities many have done just that (think health care workers, essential workers, mask makers), nationwide there is a huge divide that is getting wider and wider. My son compared it to baseball teams. The Reds/No Masks and the Blues/Masks. And that’s what it feels like. Why? Why is this happening?
We agreed that it boils down to leadership or lack of. Moral, strong leadership is important during “normal” times but is critically important during a crisis. We are witnessing the dire lack of leadership from both parties right now. So we wondered, what is a concerned citizen, a scared citizen, a vulnerable citizen to do?
I shared with my neighbor that I had spoken with two friends. Both of them strong, intelligent women who have been through a lot. Both of them were visibly at the end of their rope. Scared, frustrated, and feeling incredibly powerless. I thought about these women who I admire so much and then thought about the Facebook posts I’ve seen by a local state senator who, I feel, is inflaming his constituents with his less than helpful posts. Posts that lay the blame of what is happening on the Stay at Home orders put out by our governor. We are witnessing this across the country and we both find it absolutely baffling and horrifying. I found myself wishing my senator could hear these women because they are sharing experiences that I think are common and ones that he doesn’t appear to be hearing or listening to. So again I ask, “Why?” Why are their voices not being heard by such groups? Why this blue vs red mentality even when we are living through a public health crisis not seen before in our lifetime? Why?
Many of us are growing gardens this year. For many, it’s something that’s done every year. For many others, it’s a new thing to do. The pandemic has us thinking about our food and where it comes from. It has given us time to be outside. These are two very good things. It is the first year in a long time that I am actually enjoying the garden the way a garden should be enjoyed. Being home, with little else pulling at my time, I am able to slow down and be at one with my gardens. Not having to quickly plant things because of the time restrictions due to having a full time job is not being lost on me. It leads me to question the demands of our work life. They are obviously inhumane and need to be looked at closely and hopefully this pandemic will help us and our leaders see the needs for change. Hopefully they will start with health care for everyone.
For 3 years I have been calling our senators and representatives weekly. Yes, I am incredibly embarrassed to even admit that, because by admitting that I am sharing my lack of citizenship for the previous years. Anyway, each week that I call I have a specific request. Vote for this bill or that bill. Go to the border. Etc…etc… But the past few weeks I find I’m so overwhelmed that I call and admit that I’m not quite sure why I’m calling because I can’t pick just one thing to focus on. There are so many. So I find myself asking what the senator or representative is doing to address the testing shortages, the PPE being taken by the government, removing trump, health care for everyone. And they tell me. I listen and they tell me what their office is working on. I have found that I’ve learned a lot about things I didn’t even know were in the works and I’ve listened while they admit that they are overwhelmed too. So one piece of advice is to call your reps. Tell them how you are feeling during this crisis. Then ask them what they are doing about it and what their long term vision is for our society once we are on the other side of this.
Then when you are done, turn closer to home. Check in with your family members. Make sure they are ok and if they aren’t, find out if/how you can help. Reach out to your neighbors and local organizations. Find local small businesses to support. Help local reps who you support as they run for office and work to unseat those who are using this pandemic to further divide us. But first, take care of yourself. We are not worth anything to anyone if we aren’t OK. This may be the hardest thing for some of us to do. I include myself in that. Living life in a fog is a fairly new experience for me. I’m assuming I’m not alone in this. The literature tells us it is normal (during these anything but normal times). That it’s even OK, to go with it. To accept it. So let’s start there. Just take it a day at a time, or maybe an hour at a time and accept whatever we are feeling and doing. This is especially important if you have children at home. Give your family permission to not do all that “needs” to be done, including schooling. What we are living through is school! Use this to learn about local government, who is running, and who your family may want to help and support. Learn about what you can grow in whatever space you may have, and then plant it. Keep a journal; include photos and art work and nature observations. Read, to each other, with each other, and alone. Find recipes and cook them even if they are as simple as making a sandwich by cutting a banana into 1/8’s and adding 2 TBSP of PB and 1 tsp of honey to it. Write letters to those in a local nursing home or hospital. Thank the nurses and doctors. If you have a favorite store or cafe that is open, write them a thank you card. If you have a pet, research ways to enrich their days during this time. There are a lot of fun things to do with your pet. Then at the end of each day, pick one good thing that happened that you are thankful for and name it.
Take care of yourself and each other (and your animal friends too).