A Winter's Tale: Light Has Started to Come Back
Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Inspiration from Our Ancestors.
In the midst of this profoundly difficult time, I find myself quite inspired by the memory of those who have gone before us--how they found the strength and courage to survive terrible wars and plagues and pandemics. My parent's generation managed, somehow, to make it through World War II. I don't focus on the actual events--that would add more stress--but on the general way they endured in such dire circumstances. If they could make it through that horrendous period in our history, perhaps we can make it through ours as well. We are, I suspect, more resilient than we think.
The Light Has Started to Come Back
It may sound odd but I find it helpful to acknowledge that, in some ways, this pandemic is a lot like a war. When a war is fought in one's home country, most everyone loses someone or something; many lose a huge amount. And things that used to be fundamental change or disappear. We, in fact, will soon have lost more Americans to COVID-19 than the total number of American soldiers that died in World War II (291,557). And, of course, there are so many other losses that I don't need to reiterate.
The last few days I've been struggling with some depression. And there's insomnia, which has gone on far too long. And it's cold. And the days are so short. So I need to grab on to hope. I am inspired by my ancestors to look for hope. I root around for hope like a pig after truffles. And sometimes I find it. (Caffeine and chocolate help a little too, I confess...I just leave them alone after noon.)
Here's something that is very hopeful to me. So many people have sacrificed so much to fight this war--nurses and other medical personnel, hospital and nursing home housekeepers, doctors, researchers, those who choose not to travel or to gather in person with their beloved communities, parents trying to work and care for their kids, frontline service workers in warehouses and grocery stores. And yes, even bureaucrats doing their best to distribute vaccines and information. Simply wearing a mask or staying home are significant contributions. I acknowledge that many have had little or no choice in the matter. That is, unfortunately, often true in a war. But still, the list of those who are giving themselves goes on and on. Showing us that commitment to the greater good is alive and kicking.
We are stronger than we think we are. We are more compassionate than we fear. We will find our way out of this catastrophe.
Something else I am hanging on to: the long journey of diminishing light, of shorter and shorter days, is over for this year. The light has started to come back. It's true that temperatures will continue to drop for a while longer. Winter is still very much here. But daily, whatever it looks or feels like outside, we are moving inexorably towards spring.
I came across another story of hope the other day, in an unexpected place. It's a brief tale. About a very large tail. A snow leopard tail--or rather, the lack thereof.
I am in awe of snow leopards. Big, gorgeous and mysterious, they touch deep places in my soul. Normally they sport huge tails which help them keep their balance as they negotiate harsh mountain habitat--leaping across chasms, walking the edges of a snow-covered cliff, chasing down prey. But alas, the most recent Snow Leopard Trust newsletter told of a snow leopard in Mongolia that has apparently lost its tail. Yet somehow this creature remains healthy. Marissa Naranjan, SLT Deputy Director, shares her reflections.
"I wondered how the cat was managing to hunt without the stabilizing help from a tail. [Then] it struck me how symbolic this photograph is of everything we are facing right now in the world. During these times, many of us are suddenly finding ourselves without the very things that bring us balance and stability, the signature attributes that anchor us and make us who we are. But yet, we are still here, managing and adapting, and figuring out how to navigate this new landscape. We are coming together in the name of global health and we will not give up. This resilience makes...leaders of us all and we are mightier together."
In this inverted season of dark and light may you be visited by angels. May you meet shepherds of compassion. May you receive tender and mysterious gifts from wise strangers. May a beautiful beast offer you hope. And may light come tiptoeing back into your life.
Until next time,
Snow leopard running, Robert Harding Picture Library
Rosie the Riveter, Norman Rockwell
Cup of cocoa, Myles New, noperfectdayforbananafish.tumblr
Tailless snow leopard, Snow Leopard Trust
Lantern in snow, Mira Kemppainen, unSplash