Welcome to the new normal. My pick-up-the-grocery fail meant I’d need to take time and actually go into the store. Besides not having groceries, we didn’t have the local news, which meant I hadn’t heard the rumors of everything being closed, including schools, libraries, and even churches. On Friday the thirteenth, I waded into full-scale retail panic. Produce aisles were picked bare with a few lone organic apples still remaining. It was the same with the bread, dairy, paper products, cleaning items, and chicken. Suddenly, I was buying things I never bought for the simple reason that it was food. The bright spot in my day was the upbeat, chatty cashier who checked me out. She was definitely an unsung heroine that day.
It’s easy to focus on the negative in a crisis because the news will highlight it for you. Instead, I tried to look for the helpers as Mr. Rogers reminded us to do. At the Humane Society where I volunteer, helpers abounded. Volunteers came in to care for the animals despite what might be happening in their own lives. People still came by to drop off donations. When the center decided to close, employees, volunteers, and just plain concerned folks fostered many of the cats and dogs in their own homes.
Hoarders might grab the headlines, but there is a small army of folks putting together food baskets for those who have lost their jobs or had their income greatly reduced. Volunteers might be wearing masks and donning gloves when they carry the baskets out, but they are still there. A big shout out to Gleaners, who is delivering the food to different food pantries, and the folks who contribute making it possible for others to eat.
Never forget those who don’t have the luxury of working from home: the medical personnel, home health care workers, fire and police officers, mail carriers, and delivery folks. Farmers and ranchers are hard at work providing food staples. Those who staff the groceries, drug stores, and gas stations are providing a vital service, too. Before pointing fingers at those on the road, keep in mind they may be delivering needed medicine or supplies. Many, despite working double shifts, still carry out their jobs in a positive manner.
This virus that goes by many names has taught us to be more creative in educating our children and maintaining social contact via the Internet. My women’s spirituality group held a ritual using Zoom. It was reassuring to see all the familiar faces. While caution has put us in a temporary time out and created a new normal, it has also slowed us down enough to appreciate the bloom of a spring flower or the blue bird at the bird feeder.
If you look hard enough you will find the helpers. You can be one of the helpers, too. It doesn’t take much—a call to see how someone is doing or even a text. Write a letter and put it in the mail. Make sure to tip the delivery person who brought you dinner or groceries. Take time to walk in the sun with your dog. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate him or her. Play a game with your children. Smile, even if it is only at yourself in a mirror. This won’t last forever. In the end, let’s emerge like the butterfly, changed by the experience for the better.