Migrating from "Anti-Covidanxiety Toolkits" to...?
Please note: I've posted a list of all the tools in all the toolkits that I've offered so far. I will update it when I create new posts.
I expect we are in this pandemic thing for the long haul. Hopefully as society opens back up we will not see a surge of new cases, but I tend to think otherwise. In any case, it will take a long time to repair the economy, and the many shattered lives--those caused by lack of work and exceedingly scarce resources (read "food," "hope," even "acknowledgement of their plight") no less than those directly affected by the virus.
I have struggled on and off with fears and anxieties for much of my life. At times severe, at times more manageable. I have also been blessed, over and over, with support and hope in various forms. So that's what I share here: those blessings that have helped me survive anxiety, and move past survival to growth.
And I will continue to share them. I will, however, be migrating from the current "toolkit" format of several tools each time to single topics or themes, maybe making it a little shorter overall; I've been leaning in that direction recently anyway. Hence the title above.
In the powerful story, Crow and Weasel, that I quoted last week, author Barry Lopez includes a scene which suggests a different approach to courage than what we normally get.
In the middle of the night, Crow whispered his friend's name. "Weasel. Are you awake?"
"Yes. Do you hear something?"
"No. I have been thinking about being in the Floating Ashes River."
"What about it?"
"When we were swimming the horses over, I felt something come up around my legs. It took hold and started to pull me under."
"What!? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I am still trying to understand it," said Crow.
"What is there to understand? You just get away from something like that--right away. You don't live in the water. A river, that's not your place."
"You have made this clearer for me," said Crow after a moment.
"What do you mean?"
"I think what it was saying to me was this: with some things in life you don't try to fight. A young man wants to fight everything, it is in him to do that. A grown man knows to leave certain things alone. Some things you don't answer. It doesn't mean you have no courage."
Weasel looked over at Crow in the dark. "My friend, were you afraid to tell me what happened back there because I would say you have no courage?"
"Something like that."
"Well, you may not always get your arrows to fly straight, and sometimes you think too much, but you are courageous too. Take my word for it."
In the last year or two of his life, my dad, a profoundly intelligent and accomplished man, struggled with dementia. He had trouble focusing, finishing tasks, and trouble maintaining a balanced view of himself and the world. Like most of us he had his fears and faults, which made him difficult or even painful to be around sometimes. But during his middle and later adult years as he recovered from alcoholism, he was able to at least partially tame them with the help of his Higher Power. Unfortunately the dementia brought them roaring back, to his own dismay and the dismay and heartbreak of family, friends and caregivers.
I was therefore very touched one day to see a small plaque in his room at the assisted living facility, from a very understanding friend. Against a quiet background of swirled blue it said, "Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'" It brought tears to my eyes, because it spoke both of his struggle, and the reality, and treasure, of small hope.
But its true--the idea of small hope can be scary. "What if its not enough?" I think. But these days I find it is primarily the small hopes that get me through each day. And I am grateful for that.
I have that plaque now to remind me of my dad, his gifts and his struggles with courage, and of the many, many people who loved him. It is in my office, as a reminder for me and inspiration for my clients. Courage does not always shout. Hope does not always flare. Sometimes it is like a small brown mouse who sneaks out to grab a crumb or a seed to drag back home.
And that gives me the title for my new series of blog posts: "Small Seeds of Hope."
Be at rest, my friend, at least for a while. You do not need to fight everything. You and I, we can both try again tomorrow.
Until next time,
Photo and image credits:
Bruce Hong, unSplash (cover photo)
Belinda Fewings, unSplash