The Importance Of Being Earnest…
Live Meaningfully – By Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A.
The Importance Of Being Earnest…
(Sorry – no Oscar Wilde correlation)
As I write this, we are firmly in what seems to be an ever escalating moment of fear. It’s early March and, though I would like to have hope that by the time you read this in April we will be in a different space, I can’t help but feel pretty taken by just how dire our sociological response to the Coronavirus is…
There is a shortage of hand sanitizer, people are canceling giant festivals, conventions and events, human beings everywhere are avoiding crowds/air travel/vacations and apparently now there is a shortage of toilet paper?
My husband and I actually even canceled our trip to New York for his birthday in the interest of trying to be responsible, especially with children at home and many friends and relatives who could be compromised by us bringing something unwanted back from our travels.
I can honestly say it’s probably one of the only times in my life that I have allowed something driven by fear to alter my plans. (And I worked at Newsweek in Manhattan during 9/11.)
I am really not sure what to make of it all. Is this the superinfection of our generation? Is it a threat grossly overblown? Are we not yet fully aware of how acute and dire it could become? Are we being responsible by curtailing our lives or are we further reinforcing a message of fear?
Here is what I do know.
I’m nervous, you guys.
I’m not only nervous about COVID-19 in and of itself… but also very nervous about what intense and pervasive fear can do to us as a people and a community. Our children are out of school and sports, being mandated not to play together or convene, we’re not allowed to celebrate birthdays or events together nor hug one another. The options of isolation/quarantine, working remotely are being elevated and the ‘good sense’ of disconnection is being espoused.
I’m certainly a rational human being, there’s no reason to mock authority or disregard responsible actions let alone public safety, but I also have a distinct fear of us as a people being guided by fear… especially for months on end.
The innumerable benefits of human touch are not a mystery to us. We have scientifically proven that human beings are wired for connection and affective touch improves health, extends lifespans, softens communities, reduces pain and increases our ability to grow, make better decisions and connect…just to name a few.
So what then comes from a community (especially those most compromised in our community) in which we are forced to disconnect and fear one another? What happens to our abilities to encourage, respect, support, help, heal and empathize with one another?
I say all of this in no way to be dismissive or disrespectful of the real danger that may exist for many – especially the elderly and those immunosuppressed. But rather as a reminder of who you and we, as a people, are. We are wired for connection; simple as that. So now how do we get it?
I’m not naive; danger does exist. But I am hopeful that things happen in cycles and this not forever. My prayer is that we will run to embrace one another both literally and figuratively with the same alacrity with which we eschewed connection and closeness.
The world is an unrecognizable place at this moment and people are feeling a significant threat in terms of health, financial insecurity, fear and confusion. We have never seen anything quite like this in our time. It is my hope that we will experience the same level of significance in an unprecedented environment of helping one another, loving one another, restabilizing together as families, communities, a nation and a global alliance on the other side of this.
Please, do be safe. Don’t test fate nor compromise the safety of yourselves, your families or especially your loved ones. Wash your hands, make good choices, don’t unduly expose yourselves to danger… but also, lend a (frequently washed) hand, a hug, or at the very least, a warm smile and a word of encouragement to the very next person you see in need.
It is perhaps as great a health risk as COVID-19 not to.
Till the next time,
Be Well; Live Meaningfully.
Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A. practices at 2150 Park Avenue North as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and can be reached at www.livemeaningfully.net or 407-796-2959.