Finding Joy and Meaning In It All
Four and a half months into lockdown or semi-lockdown, how are we faring? Has mask-wearing become comfortable to you or even second nature? Does this feel like the new normal? Are you daring to plan and commit to next summer’s vacation?
As we move beyond grumbling and complaining and settle into new routines, it’s amazing how we are finding joy in simple, mundane things that have been there all along, but are more visible and meaningful in a world that has involuntarily slowed its pace. I think we’ve even gotten over the “mean people” period, when many of us were having a hard time exercising self-control and felt it necessary to share our fear and frustration about what was happening to us—not having internalized yet that what’s happening to you is also happening to me. Therein lies our refuge, our strength, our blessing and our way out: the bond of common experience.
While this new and unwanted reality is affecting us all differently, it is nevertheless affecting us all. As with most challenging situations, the most vulnerable among us are the most negatively affected. Even so, this pandemic has shown us how equal and interdependent we are—whether we like it or not. For example, some among us are hard-pressed to keep a roof over our heads, while for others, keeping the kids fed is the bigger challenge. Some have chronic conditions that are manageable in normal times, but that now—with COVID-19 and its attendant effects on health, safety, income and mobility—present an existential threat. People with businesses have been impacted by fewer paying customers and less income, and that means less money to pay mortgage, school tuition or medical bills. We’re like lines of dominoes, falling all over each other.
Psychologists and sociologists affirm what we all know from personal experience: Common experiences bind us and attract us to each other. Right now, the one experience that every human on the planet has in common is living in a pandemic. It appears that coronavirus is going to stick around long enough for the ties that inevitably bind us to take hold and perhaps strengthen. I have to think that our Creator, in His omniscience, purposefully brought together and overlaid the Black Lives Matter movement with this new, pervasive, incurable, equal-opportunity disease. I believe that His plan is for us to be transformed into better, more compassionate individuals who intrinsically understand that we are each other’s brothers and sisters, bar none, and that we have not just a moral responsibility, but also an existential responsibility to love, care for and respect one another.
Our responsibilities to each other and the planet are the focus of some very special offerings this month. “How We Can Transform Our Lives,” by Jonah Paquettes, suggests ways to find meaning and joy from what’s already around us. In an interview with Sandra Yeyati, the National Wildlife Federation’s Mustafa Santiago Ali discusses how America can heal itself through social justice. And local philanthropist and “greenie” Trammell Crow talks about his new book and his work on the national stage to get Americans to realize that we’re “all in this together.”
As always, we hope you will find much in this month’s issue that inspires you to live a healthier life—mentally, spiritually and physically—on a healthier planet.
Blessings until next month,