Saturday, April 4, 2020

What is this trying to teach me?

 When you replace "why is this happening to me?" with
 "what is this trying to teach me?" everything shifts.

I saw this quote the other day and it really made sense to me, given the circumstances that we are all experiencing now.  It reminded me of my yoga teacher and her favorite saying about everything, everyone being a teacher.  Even an annoying fly is there to teach you something.

I have been thinking heavily about what this whole thing, this whole Covid-19 Pandemic, is teaching us.  We are, right now, experiencing a very similar experience on a global scale.  While there are so many things that separate us, divide us, and try to place a wedge between us, in actuality, right now, we are connected by this common human experience like we have never done in history before.  And when you think about that, it's pretty amazing!  For this one moment in time and history we are all facing a very similar fear, unknown, uncertain, and irrational demon: Global Pandemic.  

This is no longer just about my neighborhood, my city, my state, my country.  This is a global phenomenon that is being felt all across the planet Earth.  

Since all experiences are learning experiences, I have been thinking a bit deeper about what I have learned during this quarantine. 

1.  Physical Social Connection  I think one thing that many can agree on is that we have taken for granted our daily physical social connections with other humans for far too long.  If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that humans are not designed to be isolated from society for long periods of time.  I have heard so many times from friends and family over the last few weeks, how much they miss being at work with beloved co-workers, being able to hug and touch a loved one, and visit and talk to friends face-to-face. My own personal feeling on this is that I miss my students immensely.  Being an elementary teacher, I am used to getting unsolicited hugs all day long from my students.  There is something that feels so unnatural about physically avoiding my own mom, neighbor, or friend.  

2.  Sometimes it's a good thing to disconnect to reconnect  I know this sounds counterintuitive to what I just said about humans not being able to distance from society for long periods, but my meaning here is that we have been given the green light to step away from social obligations, sporting events, work commitments and spend LOTS of quality time with immediate family.  While this may be a struggle still for some, I think that the overarching feeling is that parents are spending more QUALITY time with their children.  Spouses have been gifted the time to sit and talk, caught up, and enjoy each other's company without the daily stress of our hurried lives.  I know this may not be an ideal situation for many but I think that the quarantine and pandemic restrictions have made us reevaluate what is important.  It has made us shift our focus to what is REALLY important in this life.

3.  Sense of Community  I am an elementary teacher and one of the first things I was amazed by was the speed in which school districts, administrators, teachers and staff developed a plan for our nation's children.  In my area, we were told on Friday evening around 4:00pm that school would be closed starting the following week.  Within a few hours, our school districts were issuing communication to parents about food distribution, who to contact for food needs, and new methods for communicating with teachers and staff.  Within a few days, our districts were distributing food to children, providing daily updates, and developing remote learning plans so that students could continue learning during the closures.  While a small group of people were busy hoarding toilet paper in stores, other community members were hard at work making sure that our children were taken care of during this crisis.  In my area, local farmers stepped up to provide needed produce to the community.  My local, family owned Farmer's Market was going out of there way to keep the shelves stocked for their customers.  While the big box grocery stores were flooded with people and shelves picked clean, I learned the importance of knowing how to source your food locally.  The owner of the Farmer's Market was making daily trips to local farms to pick up beef, chicken, bread, milk, fresh veggies, and eggs.  Knowing local food sources has become a top priority moving forward.  I have seen the value in knowing my local farmers and what they do for our communities. 

4.  Helping Others  While the beginning of the pandemic seemed like a mad rush to figure out a plan, answer all the unknown questions, and stockpile supplies, I saw others in the community stepping up to offer help.  Local libraries were open to provide books and materials for people preparing to be shut-in for unknown amounts of time.  Healthcare workers stepped up to prepare the hospitals and medical facilities for the influx of patients.  Local food pantries stocked their shelves and offered food to those in need.  Yoga teachers and fitness coaches starting streaming free, live sessions for home exercise. Local musicians started live streaming their music to keep spirits up. People started creating scavenger hunts with hearts so that little kids would have something to look forward to and keep them busy.  Local restaurants and bars voluntarily closed their doors just days before St. Patrick's Day in an effort to keep their workers and patrons safe from a rapidly-spreading virus.  Local book stores donated books and set up Little Free Libraries within the community to help get books in the hands of children.  A local bakery near me that had only been open for about 6 months raised money to buy needed cleaning supplies for a local nursing home.  Another business near me is a distillery that was set to open late-March this year.  Instead of distilling whiskey, he retrofit his equipment to start making much-needed hand sanitizer. A local coffee shop that was forced to close made it their mission to take free coffee to first responders, healthcare workers, grocery stores, and school cafeteria workers everyday. 

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it is that even in the midst of being disconnected, we are connected more now than ever!  

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