Personally, I have been feeling a little tired, no…… weary more aptly describes my current status. Like you, dear reader I have experienced the endless feeling of “Groundhog Day,” the redundancy of daily life activities without the possibility of something to look forward to. Day after day rising to what is surely a day of the same thing, dress for work or not, begin work, eat, eat some more, work, maybe have a grocery shopping trip, try to find a vaccine appointment, work, come home (or just go into the next room), maybe exercise but surely eat and possibly drink again! Watch the talking heads, go to bed and then start it all over again.
Yay !!! Friday is here but what difference does that really make?
Hope was hard to capture and seemed so far away. Knowing that I needed to make a change I consulted my most valuable asset,……. my patients. The question was, “ what do you find valuable about the pandemic isolation?” In other words, is there a silver lining for you? For the most part, I heard common concepts of; reconnection with family, making great improvements to my home, did not have to travel for work, saved a ton of money, rescued a dog, and so on. Some of my patients expressed being super angry either with those who refuse to acknowledge the crisis, refuse to mask up and to get vaccinated, or the opposite spectrum, those who are angry because they are being forced to acknowledge there is actually a pandemic crisis. Then one of my astute patients told me that she felt the loss that the pandemic and subsequent isolation created. This resonated in me so strongly I thought, YES… there is so much loss. We as a collective society are mourning our “everything”. Our way of life has been disrupted so much so that many have plummeted into despair.
It occurred to me that one way or another our entire community is experiencing some level of daily hopelessness, anger, loss, anxiety, or depression. Hmmmmm, that sounds horrible.
So, then what can we do? How can we change this seemingly collective experience? How do we capture hope? My reflection took me to a place of remembrance. Some time ago I became very interested in how individuals overcame extreme trauma, how they persisted despite all odds. How was it, that a human being could endure unimaginable acts of violence (both physical and psychological), imprisonment, loss, and still persist. So, I went into research mode; I read a dissertation on compensatory techniques women utilized to survive the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. I watched a documentary on John McCain’s torture and imprisonment by the North Vietnamese during the war. I would never compare our pandemic isolation with these two events I will however draw a parallel from them. I found that the common thread was hope. Hope that there would be an end and hope that they would individually and collectively “make it “. The question now, was how did they capture this elusive hope?
And that dear reader brings me to faith, not specifically a religious faith but a faith in what could be, a faith that indeed there would be a future and in that future there would be life and a new beginning. Collectively, both the women in the camps and the heroes of the “Hanoi Hilton” were able to capture hope because they could cultivate faith. They could believe both as individuals and as a community that indeed there was life after the present now. And both groups communicated that to each other with secret messages and codes to say “ I am still here and so are you, we CAN and WILL make it”.
The very important point not to be missed in this brief reflection on our pandemic is not just that faith is a stepping stone to hope but that we need the collective to effectively “make it”. We need each other. We need communication, compassion, and physical touch. For me, this is the silver lining. The recognition that it is all about the love we give and the love we get. Consider this communication my message to you that “ I am still here and so are you, we CAN and WILL make it” to the other side of this pandemic. Until then cultivate your faith so much so that it becomes your stepping stone to hope.
“He who has a why to live can endure almost any how” F. Neitzsche