Updated: May 23
Under great stress, people are becoming more of who they are - for better and for worse. That's why I find it heartening during these times to see… If people are giving, they're becoming more giving. If people are loving, they're becoming more loving.
I see this every day – even from my window.
On the few occasions I've been out of the house, I get to see it up close. I watch people with curiosity, because putting my focus on others helps me deal with anxiety. Over the last couple months, massive changes have occurred in my neighborhood, and if I think about it too much it becomes overwhelming.
So first I put my focus on how much the neighbors plants have grown. The Spring flowers are blooming! I stop by to say hello to a neighborhood cat, who blissfully sits in the sunny window all the while intensely watches the birds in a nearby tree.
I wonder, “Am I becoming a cat watching everyone out of my window? Have I always been a cat and never knew it until now?” In any case, this is a welcome distraction from the ambulance sirens down the street. It's been over 2 months since this nightmare took over my city, you’d think I'd have gotten used to the sound, but it makes me cry every time.
I keep walking…
I deeply miss seeing my favorite locals. Even in “normal times” I’d stop by to say hello for a few minutes to check in, but today the storefronts are shuttered. I hope they are okay.
Thankfully, in the distance I see Leo - my mailman! I'm over the moon and rush over to say hello. We stand 6 feet away from one another, wearing masks and enjoy the beautiful day together. This is the most normal I have felt in ages.
It must be funny seeing us talk to each other. Masks bobbing up and down. Arms gesturing wildly to get our points across. We must look like birds migrating into the city in the Spring. Chatty. Animated. And blissfully content to see each other - season after season.
Although we don’t talk to each other that much, Leo has a special place in my heart. See, when I moved into this part of the neighborhood it was in November - not all my mail was being transferred yet. Without me asking, Leo kept an eye out and literally saved Christmas. He's that kinda guy. I’m glad he’s okay.
Then I go to the grocery store. Everyone now wears a mask as soon as they enter the store. No one asks them to do so, and no one makes wearing one "a thing" or gives the staff problems because my neighbors actually care about each other and want to protect one another. Everyone's doing their part to help each other get through this.
This kindness, care, and love gives me hope.
It's these little things, you know…
Wearing a mask. Looking at someone in the eye and smiling. Moving out of the way, so someone can get by. Even having a heart-to-heart conversation with a the checkout girl behind the counter to see how she's doing. Is she okay? Is her family okay?
She is. They are. I am. Mine are. (Sigh of relief.) “See you in a couple of weeks!”
I've even feel this kindness shift in customer service calls and emails. More and more people are greeting each other and ending the conversations with, "Thank you and stay safe." and "Take care of yourself. Hope you and yours are well." And it’s not out of habit, but rather out of genuine hope and goodwill.
People are understanding the words we choose matter.
The actions we take matter.
And we might not be able to give as much as we would like, but each one of us can at least do something.
Take for instance the 7pm clap. I know I’ve talked about this little ritual before… but I still find it incredible that it even exists. Because let’s be honest, it’s been over 2 months, how long can this go on?! Does it even help?!
Then it happened…
An answer to my questions.
A little miracle occurred on my street this week. In the morning, a neighbor's yard filled up with balloons. I thought, " How inventive! Must be someone's birthday. How cute they're having a social-distancing party." I’ve seen pictures and videos shared of this happening all over the world, why wouldn’t it happen on my street?!
I was half way right.
It was a celebration, but it was not a birthday party.
It was a coming home party.
Unbeknownst to me, one of my neighbors had been sick… His name is Sal. And although I have not met him, I am so glad he's home. I can only imagine how hard this has been on him, his family, and his friends. So many families have not been so fortunate.
Every person who comes home is a miracle.
He is one of us.
One by one, Sal’s loved ones showed up, all wearing masks to protect each other.
One by one, they added balloons and homemade signs to the yard.
One by one, they lined the pavement supporting Sal and welcoming him back home.
As Sal got out of the car, everyone cheered him on as he walked by. It was glorious.
Friends, there is love in this world and it is up to all of us to bring it forward.
Keep showing up for each other...
We need you.
With Love, Us