Well it’s been an interesting few months. There are moments in life when the world changes in the blink of an eye and COVID-19 has caused a change like this for all of us. A generation is often defined by it’s reactions to such moments in time and I believe it will be the same with this.
During our Mother’s Day conversation this year my mother kept sharing memories from her experiences as a child during World War II. She said things she hadn’t thought of in years were showing up in her dreams and random thoughts. She recounted the tails of Victory Gardens, illicit meat, and collecting clothes hangers for money at the recycling center.
After hearing of the air raid drills and the loud sirens I asked her how she dealt with the atmosphere of almost constant fear as a young girl. She replied without hesitation, “We were prepared! We had a bag with a warm coat and some food that we kept with us at all times. We stored it right next to our desks. We knew what to do.”
My grandparents flower shop was not considered an “essential business” and so they were not eligible to by gas for the flower deliveries. Although bicycles were not available for purchase because the metal all went to the war effort it was possible to buy bike parts. My grandparents obtained enough parts to build two bikes that were used with big baskets on the front to deliver flowers to funerals and weddings. “We used what we had,” my mother said.
I wonder what lessons we can take from her experiences from such a long time ago? We have all certainly been reminded that knowledge is a form of power and being prepared brings a sense of control and security. We can also see that extraordinary times often inspire or demand innovation, adaptation, and thinking outside of the box.
It is my hope that as we endure this unexpected pause together we will all take some time to reimagine our lives and our world in a way that is more in line with our own deepest sense of beauty and purpose. This pause is an opportunity for examining and recreating our lives so that when the gates finally open up once again we are ready to emerge into a better world for ourselves and those around us.
Maybe this means starting a yoga practice or planting a garden. Or maybe it’s reaching out online to an old friend or relative who lives too far away to see regularly. Maybe it’s volunteering your skills or time to a worthy cause. Maybe it’s taking up wood working or finally fixing that squeaky step. Maybe it’s learning how to cook without all the ingredients or maybe it’s picking up those watercolors and brushes that haven’t seen much use lately. Maybe it’s reading that book someone loaned you or learning a new skill – there’s a YouTube tutorial for everything! Maybe it’s digging out some old music like Curtis Mayfield or Van Morrison or Miles Davis and sharing it with your kids. Maybe it’s reconnecting with nature in one of a thousand possible ways. You can begin by making an appointment with the sunset or learning the species of the birds in your own backyard. There is an infinite number of ways to bring more depth and beauty to your life. This pause in the normal rhythm of life can be an opportunity to slow down and add at least a few.
We cannot change the reality around us – but we can change how we choose to respond to it. Will these circumstances inspire us to grow stronger and wiser and become more kind? Or will the constant fear and isolation and uncertainty wear us down? Perhaps in reality it will be a little bit of both.
While this is a challenging time for everyone some of us may benefit from a little extra help. If you feel like you might need some support we encourage you to reach out to us or other mental health professionals in your area.