Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Take time to help others and yourself
The world, as we knew it, has changed. In a very short time, the impact COVID-19 and the threat it carries has taken over our daily movements, how we do business, how we interact and is certainly the primary topic of conversation. I now understand the need to slow down the exposure to the virus, but stand by my belief that eventually we will all be exposed with many completely unaware of the contact, some showing mild symptoms, and others suffering severely. People are dying from this new virus, but many, many more are recovering. Let that be the headline!
I have heard people compare the spread of the virus as a threat unlike anything since 9/11, but I disagree. On that day in September, America came together. We helped our neighbors. We worked to find ways to offer reassurance. We showed compassion. We united. We had an enemy and the enemy was “out there.” This coronavirus … not so much!
This virus is not “out there” but, could be standing next to you. I have been somewhat appalled watching humanity at its worst — fighting and hoarding over paper products like it is a Black Friday special. Stores unable to keep goods in stock as fear and selfishness grip the population. It is difficult to watch, but easy enough to understand. Many people are afraid, and many are ill informed. Fear and misinformation do not make great bedfellows. It brings out the worst in us.
It feels foreign to me and goes against the life I have tried to build. When I was new to the area and a working single parent, I discovered volunteering as a means to enjoy activities I could not otherwise afford. The organization benefits. I benefit. The benefactors of the group benefit. Truly, a win-win-win.
The community I live in is proud of the many nonprofits that exist here. Some would say, too many nonprofits. We have something for about every passion — from music and the arts — to animals small and large. We have organizations to help children and others to aid adults. There are nonprofits dedicated to native culture and our collective history. Honestly, I have never lived anywhere where so many are willing to do for so many!
It is a fact that much of my social life is tied to these many nonprofits and the causes they support. Fundraisers are (were) a weekly occurrence. We are givers and doers. Those who receive help from one of the groups is very likely donating time to another. Just ask the gal helping at the animal shelter who gets her meals from the local food bank.
This is the type of behavior I have become accustomed to seeing in the sector of the population I have come to know. We are not the selfish, shortsighted, ignorant folk I keep hearing about as the days of uncertainty become weeks. We have been exposed to a bit of the underbelly, but it is time to right the ship and get back on course.
The thing is, even as I write this, I am not quite feeling it. I am not quite ready to put on my philanthropic hat and put my feet on the ground to see where I can be of best use. Instead, I feel the collective despair, anger and depression surrounding me. I feel the fear from those who are unable to work and of business owners who are shutting their doors, some for the final time. I see the uncertainty in my adult children wondering how they will pay their rent and other bills. I see my friends isolating in the insecurity, slowly taking a few steps back from their day to day. We are all moving from disbelief, to uncertainty, to coping with this (temporary) new way of living. We need to allow some time to grieve and to regroup.
And then, we need to get back to work. I am hopeful that once everyone calms down, just a bit, we can get back to showing off the best part of our humanity, and really shine.
While no one knows exactly how long this hiatus from normalcy will last, there are some things we can each do right now that will sustain us and remind us of our responsibility to look out for not only those in your immediate circle, but for others as well.
Take some of this down time to reach out to someone who may be suffering from the effects of extreme isolation and uncertainty. Write a letter and mail it to a relative or long-lost friend. Write or call your elected representatives and let them know what kind of job you think they are doing. On the home front, plant some seeds and watch them grow, then share some of the offshoots with a neighbor or friend. Offer to shop for someone who might be in a higher risk category. Take advantage of social media for entertainment. Many musicians are offering free mini-concerts online and one of my own offspring is reading a chapter of “The Hobbit” live each night on Instagram. Use meeting platforms to connect with groups of friends to share the experience.
Once this crisis is over, we all want to be proud of the reflection in the mirror. Confident that we will always, ultimately, do the right thing. We are a creative species. We are resilient and we are all in this together. Let’s not lose sight of what is really important and remember, “sharing is caring” as in “here is one for you, and here is one for me.” We will all be better for it when it all works out in the end.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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