Yes, I agree. Our present circumstance is unbelievable.
Never could we imagine that our entire spring – and most likely summer or even longer – would be spent in isolation, desperately trying to stave off the worst possible outcomes of a global pandemic.
Yet here we are, and what will be done, learned and prospered from this experience? With an enormous amount of patience and perspective, I believe we will emerge on the other side stronger and with greater clarity of purpose.
While we are head down getting through this difficult time, I challenge you to take inventory of your life. Here are the questions I am currently contemplating:
What do we need, in contrast to what we merely want?
What have we taken on that's been unnecessary – both what’s filling our calendars and our homes?
How is this experience changing our priorities?
What have we taken for granted?
Do we really need to consume at the levels we had become accustomed to?
And is what we are consuming truly nourishing and enriching us – both in media content and food choices?
Are we truly caring for one another in our communities, country and world with dignity and compassion?
I realize that sometimes the best we can do is work to stay calm. I find myself waking with the thought of, “What will Dr. Fauci say today?” It’s a constant exercise in anxiety management, which can be exhausting. Add homeschooling and a heaping dose of uncertainty, and its nothing short of a miracle we aren’t collectively losing our minds. I get it. Wake up, do your best, but try to take advantage of this time to shift your perspective to prepare for when life affords the opportunity to return to normal.
And I ask, what is the “normal” you want to return to?
My usual extremely hectic schedule of youth sports, kids activities and other out-of-home responsibilities has been cut to zero. For the first time in a very long time I am able to 100% focus on the needs of my family at home. What a gift. I will be looking to reprioritize our family life once the tug of outside activities begin to show up once again. At the very least, I will return to that world with a different set of eyes. My perspective has changed. I am grateful for many, many small things. I pray I never lose this point of view. I regret that it took a pandemic to bring it about. I want my new normal to be less hectic and filled with more small moments of gratitude.
Patience is a difficult fruit of the spirit to master. We are being asked to do that which is crippling our economy and putting enormous stress on our mental health. Social distancing and isolationis emotionally painful, but critically necessary. I’m saddened by the news of people not being compliant, whether that is out of defiance or denial. Either way, we are all in this together… the whole world in fact.
In a matter of time this disease will touch us all. No corner of the earth will evade contact. I think this global aspect is not alone frightening, but rather gives us a much-needed sense of solidarity. Human history, and the study of communicable disease, tells us that we must stop the spread through isolation if we are to buy us the time needed for our healthcare infrastructure to cope and do the work necessary to create an inoculation. Those without the patience to properly social distance increase the risk and the longevity of this quarantine. This is a time when it is crucial we come together as a united team.
To those of you that are struggling in difficult marriages, unhealthy living circumstances, financial insecurity, abusive environments, or managing challenging family relationships, I imagine that the directive to stay home and socially distance is heartbreaking. I am so sorry. You have my sympathy and prayers. Having once been trapped in a life co-dependent on an alcoholic, I struggle with the thought of what families in troubling circumstances must be feeling right now. Through the lens of my own personal history, I see you, and I offer you a glimmer of hope for a better future. Stay strong friends.
I pray our new normal is abundant in compassion, empathy and a clearer understanding that we can’t live for ourselves alone. We must respect the value of all human life, the fragility of our environment, the global community, and the power of forces we should strive to better understand. I hope that as the months go by we find ourselves changed for the better. There cannot be pain and sacrifice without some small gain, and that positive outcome is completely up to each one of us.
Darcy Castro is the 2019 Elite National American Woman of Service, representing a national pageant focused on community service and empowering women. Cultivating Respect with Darcy Castrois a year-long project to promote the program’s Crown CARES platform (Creating a Respectful Environment in Society). Follow the Cultivating Respectarticles and podcast at DarcyCastro.com, and learn more at AmericanWomenOfService.com.