March 24, 2020

Silver Linings in a Dark Sky


By Kenneth Ring, Ph.D.

Are you suffering from virus fatigue? I know I am. You can’t turn on the TV or check the Internet without being drenched in stories about how terrible it is -- and of course it is dreadful -- and how grim the prospects are for the long term. While I don’t intend to adopt the way of the ostrich to deal with it, I think there is something to be said, not for denial, but for diversion. I know when I listen to all the advice for how you protect yourself, I sometimes think that the only way to be safe is to cut off my hands and then have someone decapitate me. That way, at least, I would no longer have to worry about touching my face.

All right, there’s humor, too, even lame humor like mine, to provide diversion of another kind. Whatever works.

But then, let’s not forget that this crisis also has brought out some things to be grateful for. I know I am filled with gratitude for its unexpected benisons. Let me just share one of them with you, which will exemplify what I mean.

I have a dear Mexican woman friend who has had a hard time recently after her father suddenly died. Not long afterward, she broke her leg and various complications ensued. Many months later, she is still struggling to recover. And yet...

I just received this note from her yesterday.
Dear Mr. Smile!!!
I hope everything is going soft and easy for you. Please keep calm and enjoy your quarantine. You must have lots of emails to answer and some time for relax and enjoy!
I am still working hard on my recovery. Now I am going daily into the pool, so this may help me a lot with strength and resistance... always with love and good mood!!
Here we take our own measures to make this experience a positive one. I really think this was meant to be since our sense of separation and lack of love between each other. 2020 will be remembered as the year where Mother Earth claimed some peace and showed us what is love about. I am sharing a beautiful video with you. Hope you like it.
I send you all my love from home!! 
I replied immediately:
Dear Miss Sunshine,
Thanks for checking in with me. I'm all right, just buried  under an avalanche of email for the last few days as everyone has been writing me to make sure I'm all right. And since most people write me long letters or send me their videos, blogs, poems, podcasts, what have you, it is taking all my time to keep up with my mail. I have to spend all day at my computer and don't even have time to brush my teeth! Still, it’s gratifying that so many people take the time to express their concern and love. So my thanks to you. It’s reassuring to learn that you are okay and still progressing in your recovery.
And I agree with your sentiments, too. As I wrote to another friend, the other day --
On the plus side of this vile virus crisis is the fact that it is putting people in touch with each other again in heartful and life-affirming ways. This is one way to contend against the fears that are being stirred up in the mainstream media, which I think represent another kind of toxin. Paradoxically, it is this very enforced isolation that is bringing people together, if only virtually. I myself, even though I bellyache about being on an email treadmill, am grateful for all the many friends, longstanding ones and recent ones, who have written or called me to make sure I am all right. And I’ve even heard from all of my grandchildren, which is rare, as well as my own kids of course (I have three) and other family members. It's comforting to feel surrounded by so much loving light in such dark times. 
So for this outpouring of love and concern from so many friends and family members, and indeed even for "the kindness of strangers" who have also come may way lately to offer assistance to me, I am filled with gratitude.

Only connect, E. M. Forster famously said at the end of his novel, Howards End.  I don’t think he meant it the way I mean to, but this is also a time when people are connecting with each other with love and caring. My experience must be typical of many, and I hope it has been for you, too. As trying as this time has been for all the world and for however long it may endure, the darkness has not extinguished the light of love, and never will.

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