Remember back when I did weekly playlists? It’s been a while. Frankly, I stopped doing playlist posts because I felt that I had nothing to add to the conversation. My taste in music is pretty main stream, and I’m not the person to look to when trying to find new artists. Here’s my list of things to listen to anyways! Maybe you’ll find something new. Maybe you’ll rediscover something old. To each their own.
Here’s a short list of things that have helped me wrap my head around this pandemic. Hopefully they’ll help you too.
NY Times article about remembering the little spots of light in the darkness.
How are we today? Are we doing okay? It’s okay to not be okay.
There have been a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head about how I wanted to write about the corona virus on my blog. I’ve had a lot of time to process these thoughts, and I still haven’t quite made any sense of them. And that’s okay. There isn’t much of a protocol for my generation when it comes to a global pandemic. I have nothing to look to for guidance, other than the Spanish flu. And I keep reminding myself that that’s okay. Not having guidance is okay. Not knowing what’s coming next is okay. It will all be okay.
I am very type A. My family and friends joke about my OCD tendencies and about how much of a control freak I am. This time has been incredibly hard for me because all my schedules have been disrupted, all plans cancelled, and all semblance of control has been thrown out from under me. I’ve been using this time to learn how to be okay when everything I use to stabilize my life (order, organization, schedules, events) is gone. This also means creating a new schedule, which looks a whole lot like “move to living room at 8:15 am for class; at 9:55 take a break to sit outside on the porch; at 10:45 come back inside for class; move from the kitchen table to the floor.” I miss the regularity of my law school classes. I also miss being with friends, even if we were stuck with each other starting at 8:30 am every day (I am not a great morning person…).
If you know me, you know I do not do well with change. This period of my life has been nothing but change, and that’s also been difficult. Leaving Athens, moving to Macon, starting law school, leaving all my friends behind and making new ones, trying to be comfortable with essentially “starting all over” with my professional life, and now the pandemic. Sitting here, counting all the major life changes that have happened in the past 10 months, brings an embarrassing amount of panic. I’m talking about it because I know there’s someone else out there that needs to hear that it’s okay to freak out a little. It’s okay to wallow in your discomfort for a little while before moving on; healthy, even, to do so. The important thing is to move on eventually. Keep moving forward a tiny bit each day. Take a step back if you need to, but always remember to keep stepping forward.
Change becomes comfortable with time, and right now it feels like we have an endless amount of time before us, but also a nagging fear that our time might be cut short. It’s a strange paradox to be in. But we’re in this together.
I read an article from CNN on a Californian veterinarian who treats the pets of the homeless for free. I sent the article to my dad because we’d been talking about unconditional love on the drive home from dinner the other day, when we saw a homeless man and a dog crossing the street. The dog looked to his owner before crossing, during, and after. He didn’t stray more than a foot or two from the man. It was amazing to see the loyalty they had in one another.
Humans are social creatures by nature, and dogs are pack animals, so it makes sense to me that the two would stick together out on the streets. Dogs are, after all, man’s best friend.
Reading the article got me thinking about what I perceive other people need. I learned a lot about homelessness when volunteering in San Francisco, and my mom has taught me a lot through her involvement with Room at the Inn. If I were to pack a ziplock bag with things to give to someone living on the streets, I would pack a water bottle, granola bars or trail mix, socks, bandaids, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer or Lysol wipes. I’d pack that bag thinking of someone that functions like I would function: a mouth full of good teeth, conscious of my need for protein and carbs throughout the day, and always cold (hence the socks).
That’s not the reality of most homeless people. They don’t have access to good dental care. Some of them have never been to a dentist in their lives. If you don’t have good teeth, eating crunchy food is painful. And here I was, thinking that a granola bar or trail mix would be the best option for someone because of its fat to carbs to protein ratio.
Maybe bandaids and sunscreen would be helpful, but it’s barely even a dent into the medical care they actually need. As for socks? I hadn’t even thought about cotton versus wool.
Another thing I hadn’t taken into account is the need for companionship. I had seen people living on the streets with animals, most commonly dogs, but it never occurred to me to help them while helping their owners. Kwane Stewart, the veterinarian from California, saw and met this need when he set up a table at a soup kitchen after the 2008 economic recession. His mission is to keep people with their pets, rather than separate them and put the pet in a shelter.
For myself, something I need to work on when volunteering or doing pro bono work in the future is to ask “What do you need?” rather than assume. No matter how many social studies people run, no statistics can tell people what a stranger needs in that moment.
How do you go about helping others?