Quite the Insight, vol.1

Collective Response to Global Pandemic

I’ve read a lot of articles about how we’re going through a collective period of grief right now. Actually, I haven’t. I’ve read a lot of headlines suggesting we’ve collectively going through grief and giving us all permission to feel grief right now, but I haven’t read the articles. One thing I’ve learned about grief is that it’s all about giving yourself permission. So, I gave myself permission not to read multiple think pieces on how this collective response to a global pandemic is grief. [caption id="attachment_6977" align="alignright" width="288"]paleolithic handprint in a cave The Altamira cave paintings in France.[/caption] Needing to name what we’re going through, “grief,” makes sense, because many of us are struggling with who we are in the middle of a global pandemic. I say it aloud a lot, sometimes adding expletives, “global pandemic,” because it is so outrageous a concept. I also have a virtual folder of memes regarding the global pandemic. It’s one way I’m coping with the global pandemic – to name it and to mock it.

Human Experience

Struggling with who we are is part of the human experience. Years ago, I was in a mass communications class at a community college and the instructor said that all communication from the dawn of time was meant to convey the message: “I am.” He used an example of a handprint on a cave. This is the only thing I remember from that class because it was a message that unified all of humanity – that we want to say to the world that we exist. Philosophers have struggled with this too, but I don’t enjoy philosophy enough to go down the rabbit hole of whether or not we actually exist. It makes sense then that if we want to communicate that we are, we need to know who we are. Most of the time, we explain who we are through our roles or relationships. I am my spouse’s partner. I am my child’s parent. I am a student, a lawyer, a nurse, a teacher, a bagger at a grocery store. I am a neighbor, a child, a sibling. Right now, part of our great upheaval is that the roles are shifting. Are we essential? (What a loaded question! No, I am not essential in terms of being out of my house right now.)

Who Am I?

Did I go from my primary identity being my career role to my duties as a parent taking over everything else? Am I now unemployed? Am I someone who plans ahead or runs out at the last minute to grab something? Am I social or a homebody? Am I someone who watches a tiger documentary series? Who am I in the middle of a global pandemic? Is that who I’ve always been or am I different now? [caption id="attachment_6978" align="alignright" width="300"]Neighbors making masks during COVID-19 outbreak for others Neighbors are sewing masks when shelves are bare.[/caption] All of this is fine. I have a child who is a teenager, so I am very comfortable with the idea that identity is flexible. We contain multitudes. Our identities can flex to encompass who we were before a global pandemic, who we are during a global pandemic, and who we will be when we are not right in the middle of a global pandemic. Maybe what we’re all experiencing isn’t quite grief, or not just grief, maybe what we’re experiencing is also growth.

The Best Versions of Ourselves

Growth is often uncomfortable, but what I see right now is not an overabundance of sadness and grief. What I see is an overabundance of beauty and stretching to be the best versions of ourselves – neighbors going out for neighbors, people putting out tables of canned goods for neighbors, famous and not so famous musicians and artists sharing everything they can, individuals sewing masks for those on the frontlines of this global pandemic. I click on every single one of these headlines and read every article. Apparently, in the middle of a global pandemic, I am an optimist. © Written by a client of Samaritan Center. Reprinted with permission.  
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