Little Kindnesses

A clockThe COVID-19 pandemic makes me think deeply about my mortality and the mortality of the people I love. Making it to the next birthday seems more of an accomplishment now than last year. I don’t know what will happen between now and December. Who that I know will have become sick? Who will have never recovered? How will I deal with so much grief?

I think about what to do while I’m at home. (I won’t say “stuck at home.” It’s a privilege that I have a home.) Fortunately, I’ve got projects to keep me busy. I can focus on them more intently if I’m not thinking about going out for groceries, planning my next trip to Fort Wayne and looking for the best gas price.

With heavy feelings so infectious, it’s easy to forget the humanity of the people I don’t know. But, it is more important than ever to recognize my neighbor as like me. The one who lives in the next apartment or the stranger who comes to the store at the same time as me. The neighbor that is the “other” I don’t trust. In this crisis, there is no “other” in the eyes the coronavirus. I don’t know their names, who their kids are and whether putting food on the table is a burden. But, they are all facing the same end as me.

Unity in suffering.

It’s more important to me than ever to do small kindnesses for the people I meet. They might be hungry, angry at the people stuck inside with them, lonely for human contact that they’re trying to distance themselves from. I don’t know what they face, but I can be confident that it is hard. I can acknowledge their burden with respect and not add to it.

I’m alone in my house, but I don’t feel lonely. I am busy and can talk to a person or two each day by phone. It is kind for someone to take or return my call. I try to do the same.

The mathematics are against us. Italy is an example of the nations a few days ahead of us that is suffering badly. Others countries that have been taking stronger measures appear to be keeping up. I want to not add to the suffering in my country. Being willing to do whatever I need to is a way to do that.

If the guidance I get is not based in the epidemiology and science, I can be confident that ones providing that guidance don’t value my life or the life of my loved ones. I don’t have time for that.

Holy week is unique in 2018

On April 1, 2010 I had a cardiac arrest at work. I was able to survive, but have been disabled since them. Despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to work and the biggest long term accomplishment is that I’ve lived independently since then. Considering the length of time I was on CPR before my heart rhythm was restored, that’s no small matter, although I tend to take it for granted.

In addition, I was never in a coma and woke up the next day which was Good Friday. I had no broken ribs from the CPR and had no coronary artery disease when they did the heart catheterization.

This year, the 8th anniversary of the crisis, April 1 is Easter. That’s hard not to notice and it has a symbolic significance, if nothing else. Some of my friends with special dates such as the date of a death in the family, getting off drugs and alcohol or a divorce, the period leading up to the anniversary can be difficult.

This month I had a psychiatric crisis and was in the hospital for 10 days. Although it was triggered by a medication change, the day before my admission, my computers were doing impossible things. For example, one spontaneously started playing a recording of an learning day event I had recorded from a couple years ago. I do not even know where the files are and the tablet playing them had never had the audio files on them. One computer had the icons in the task bar counting in binary and there were other peculiar things as well. It was more than I could handle at the time and I haven’t looked very closely at it either–I don’t need to freak out again thinking dark agencies were at work against me. There were more than 8 files identified as being corrupted with viruses on my laptop and it was too much. However, I didn’t fold, throw down the cards and run.

It freaked me out extremely. As the last day unfolded, I became unable to do even some basic tasks like organize my medication tray. I discovered when I got home that some medications were causing bad effects when I took them.

This years, the weeks leading up to Easter are turning out to be difficult. Despite my decreased level of functioning (Now it *is* an accomplishment to be living independently), I’m hopeful that I can begin working again. No one has told me that it is not realistic, but they don’t want to dash my hopes. As a result, I haven’t got feedback how it’s unlikely that I’ll succeed, but I notice that unlikely and impossible are not the same.

I’m really thin emotionally and get sad and weepy really easily. I also have a lot more empathic understanding and am really good a recognizing other people’s challenges and try to help them as much as I can in a kind manner when I can.

I’ve made it through difficult times in the past and never given up trying to reach a fulfilling life. I have a lot of strengths, but putting it all together isn’t possible (today). I don’t have to run from my painful experiences and have faith that they are leading me forward. Easter is a celebration of rebirth and new beginnings.

I hope that I have a similar experience.

A Mouse in the Mountains

A long time ago there was a small mouse who was all alone in the mountains. He could never find enough food and was always hungry. He longed for his home on the plains where he grew up. Mouse

Each day the mouse would search for something to eat. He would go from shrub to shrub hoping to find something to eat. Sometimes he would find a pine cone while other days he might be lucky and find a walnut or acorn. Wherever he went, it was never enough.

He was getting desperate and lonely. A wise crow watched him struggle in the brush and wanted to help. He called “Mouse, what do you need?” His voice was lost in the wind. He flew down closer and asked again. This time the mouse heard the question.

He replied, “Wise crow, I am all alone in this giant forest. I never have enough to eat. Every day I feel lost and alone.

The crow asked, “Are you far from home?”

The moue replied, “Yes I am far away from the fields of my childhood. I wish I could go home.”

The crow thought carefully. He said, “I am too old to take you there myself, but I know a young eagle what would enjoy the expedition.”

“But wise crow, won’t he eagle eat me and not take me home?”

The crow said, “The eagle’s family owes me greatly. They are an honorable people. He will do this for me if I ask.”

The mouse thought about how hungry he was. He was not sure, but after a while, he said, “Ok, let’s go!”

The crow flew away and soon an eagle came.

The mouse said, “Powerful eagle, I am so small. I am afraid of your sharp talons and giant beak.”

The eagle said “Dear mouse, do not fear. I am doing a favor for wise crow. I will get you home safely.”

The mouse and eagle lifted off into the sky and flew toward the plains.

Many hours later, the travelers arrived at the plain. The eagle said “See small mouse, I have kept my word. Be kind to the people you meet and remember my gift.”

Little mouse said “Thank you kind eagle. I am forever grateful.”

After a few weeks, the mouse found enough food. He wasn’t hungry any more. He remembered the mountain and was glad that life was so much easier now.

Later, the mouse met a tiny cricket. They became friends and were always together. The cricket had his own story of being rescued. Not too long before he met the mouse, a cardinal attacked the cricket. A cat in the field saw the bird and chased it away before the bird was able to eat the cricket.

The mouse said, “I am so grateful for these strangers. The eagle and the cat. Without their help we would have never met.”

As their friendship grew, the always looked for opportunities to be a kind stranger to the others on the plain.

Life was not always easy for the mouse and cricket, but the chances they found to help others kept them busy.

In the end, they took their difficult times and used them to make the world better. They felt that if that did not give to others what was given to them, they would become hard and cold.

Now that they have lived many seasons, they see how much they had to offer. They became a warm source of light for their neighbors. All of this joy was the result of one wise crow offering to help a helpless creature in the mountains. Now they are also wise and give to everyone they meet.

Original image: Mouse. By Diggler Photography [Image license]