These Pandemic Times

A theme that would likely be included in everyone’s MyStory journal or book these days would be how they have endured these Pandemic Times, since around February or March 2020.  Many have suffered deep losses of the heart from losing loved ones to this horrific virus of Covid-19, plus there have been many other repercussions of our having had to live through this pandemic for these past few years, with continuing effects as we move forward.  I invite you to write or otherwise share your Pandemic Times story, focussing on the life changes and lessons you have experienced.

For my own pandemic record, I recognize how my life has changed dramatically since before and after Covid-19 spread as a global pandemic.  I relocated from what I had previously thought would be my long term, near lakeside retirement house, selling my patio home in a small and comfortable resort community to make a Big Move to my high school hometown.  I felt trapped by the pandemic in this small community. People chose not to mask, feeling perhaps overly safe and protected. I even bought 300 masks and distributed them throughout the community, hoping neighbors would choose to help protect one another, but to no avail. (As a daily dogwalker, this mattered to me.)

I took the emerging pandemic very seriously, wanting to stay healthy for the sake of living alone with my cat and my dear diabetic dog Sophie, who relies on me for an unusually special and time-consuming diet. I used Instacart, having all my food and sundries delivered outside my door, and then (at first anyway), wiping down everything that would enter the home.

I had a dream very near the beginning of the pandemic, in which a man entered a semi-darkened theater (with about three or four rows of seating) while those of us seated were watching some video or movie. In front of us he opened a backpack, took out a gun with a long, thin barrel, and proceeded to shoot every one of us, either in the abdomen or in the chest! For me it was the abdomen, and it paralyzed me so that all I could do was watch as he completed his task, then he went into an adjacent kitchen to do his deed there as well.  For a long time this dream haunted me…were we all doomed?  But more recently I wonder if being “shot” could have also been a harbinger of the vaccines to come…

By now I have had all five available shots (plus flu, shingles, and pneumonia), so that I feel like a pin cushion. But I have not (yet anyway, knocking on my oak wood desktop) succumbed to Covid and I intend not to ever do so.

Masks, teaching entirely from home remotely, increasing texting contact with my family and friends, walking Sophie daily, and writing were my havens.  Eventually I realized I would feel more supported and comfortable in my beloved Home Town, where my best friend from high school still lives with her husband and family, and closer to my sister for visiting with her.  Besides, external spiritual community activities I had been engaged with before the pandemic were no longer “in person.” Zoom stepped in—and up!  This was and has been good, but I still am not as happy with online events as with face to face interaction and contact. I mean, you really do not get to look into a person’s eyes with Zoom, though it is very good at expanding networks beyond the local sphere.

So, I moved “during Covid times.”  Still, at the new home I used Instacart and Zoom for a long while to come, masked in public, and have to this day generally avoided large or densely gathered groups.  I finished and published the book I had begun in 2018 (Better Endings, 2022). I continued (still) to teach remotely online for Colorado though not for Ithaca, because the Covid economy crunch led to the department I taught for there being dismantled.

Now, since vaccines have effectively reduced the worst dangers of the pandemic disease, we are still beset by new variants flaring.  I see news reports that suicide rates, substance abuse rates and related deaths are up still. Many of the students I teach have suffered losses of heart and many deal with depression and fears for their future.

Yet we endure.  We share.  Despite a growing polarization of viewpoints, we reach out to one another in our families and communities, aiming to offer solace and a welcoming spirit of neighborly kindness and divine love.  In this, I would simply say, We Are Not Alone. I am grateful for the guidance along the way and for the deepened friendships with family, friends and neighborly folks in my home and spiritual communities.  Perhaps having witnessed the worst of these pandemic times—with enormous loss of life and diminished health factors in all our communities—we (I at least) have come to better appreciate the value of life but also that there is much more than just this life spiritually, so that pursuing one’s spiritual goals and interests is as or more important than simply getting by from day to day.  Love matters, awareness matters, reaching out to others in service is its own reward.

I live near the Buffalo, NY community and its neighborly love values extend far and wide in this region where the “Buffalo Mafia” (Buffalo Bills football fans) means Family.  In a region where heavy snowstorms along the Lake Effect areas have long called family and neighbors to support one another through difficult ordeals, these values of neighborly love have carried through and even intensified during these Pandemic Times. So I feel fortunate to have returned Home to this environment, and I look forward to gradually returning to “in person” life, without masking or cocooning. And yes,…Go Bills!

images are from pixabay.com

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Your story—your uniquely epic MyStory—matters.  As I like to say to my pets, family, friends and students, there has never been and will never again ever be the unique Person that YOU ARE.  If we are spiritual Beings living physical lives (as I do personally believe) then our meaningful stories, our unique life experiences, can be thought of as the Divine experiencing facets of Itself in all the diversity of life’s expression.

So again, I invite you to write your MyStory for the sake of contributing to the archives of Life Itself.  As I am exploring some of my own life theme stories with this current blogspace, I am sorting the stories into thematic files on my computer, adding to the stories as I go, intending to eventually combine the thematic topics as chapters of my own MyStory book. I encourage you to likewise explore and express your own insights and lessons from your invaluable life experiences around your own life themes.

What about you? How have these Pandemic Times affected you and your loved ones, both as challenges
and in terms of your positive lessons gained?

The Polishing Zone

After a three month dry spell due to writers block, I am resurfacing. Spring is sprouting in Western New York; I am fully vaccinated; the semester’s online teaching is winding down; and I find a story in me that I wish to share.

I walk with my beloved dog Sophie nearly every day. In our new location after returning to my high-school home town, I have been mystified by an oddity I see every time we walk in our local neighborhood. There are these marble-sized, little white balls that at first seemed to line the streets but that I have also found more than twelve of in my backyard and at a nearby park. I thought at first they were salt balls for winter weather, but no, they are ceramic.

Partly as a way to meet my neighbors, I have been carrying one of these little white marbles in my pocket and I ask people I encounter if they know what it is. Most folks are surprised to learn of them and they have no idea why they are there. Finally last week while doing some yard work, I asked an elderly neighbor working in his adjacent yard behind mine. He has been in the neighborhood for over fifty years.

“They are polishing stones from a grinding mill,” said Joe, matter-of-factly.

Joe said there was a man who had worked at a grinding mill that closed down. He brought home a large bag of these ‘polishing balls’ used in the mill, and he scattered them in his front yard as a lawn decoration.

Aha! Polishing stones from a grinding mill. But then, I wondered further, why are they strewn across at least a six to eight square blocks distance from the original home (I know where that epicenter is now as just two days ago I saw a hundred or more at one corner house in the block next to mine). Joe did not know, saying only, “maybe he put them there” (in other neighbors’ yards).

My landlady Jennifer had a good suggestion:

“Maybe squirrels play with them.”

Squirrel, Animal, Cute, Rodents

That is as close to a plausible explanation as I can figure. Maybe indeed the abundant population of neighborhood squirrels have picked these up over the years from the original yard, thinking they might be edible nuts to store, then leaving them off in other yards when they realized these were nuts that could not be cracked open! Still, that does not account for why so many of them line the roadways, often very regularly spaced or so it seems, as well as peppering the local yards. So I will keep asking; maybe some longtime resident will be able to fill in more of the story.

But now I consider these little white balls as waking dream messages from Spirit, for:

“The mill of God grinds slowly,

but it grinds exceedingly well.”

Sponsored image

I live in a neighborhood with lawns strewn with polishing stones from a grinding mill. I live in a Polishing Zone!

This rings true for the stage of life I am in, on so many levels. I cannot speak for my neighbors (in this same zone as we are together), but polishing is a welcome metaphor for what I am to be doing here.

I have taken a long, arduous journey across the proverbial (I-Ching) Great Waters and back Home again. It is time for me to polish up with the lessons I have gained along the Way.

Rakotz bridge (Rakotzbrucke) also known as Devil's Bridge in Kromlau, Germany. Reflection of the bridge in the water create a full circle. Rakotz bridge (Rakotzbrucke) also known as Devil's Bridge in Kromlau, Germany. Reflection of the bridge in the water create a full circle. across the great waters stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

It is funny how recently, as soon as I gleaned that my purpose here is in part that of polishing up my act, that I have started writing again. I am back to earnestly editing (polishing, indeed) my manuscript sequel to my first self-help volume (Your Life Path). I also am back here, writing a blog post after three long months of wondering whether I would ever write again.

Krasnal, City, Walkway, The Market, Gray
images are gratefully from pixabay.com

Polishing, polishing; editing with a new, more determined and positive energy after over a year of private pandemic reclusiveness. Re-emerging with a hopeful sense of purpose. I was almost ready to walk away from this sort of expressive writing altogether. Writing is supposed to reach out, to connect, to communicate with readers; it is not meant for just passing time or ‘contemplating my navel’.

So I aim to focus better on writing and connecting in this Polishing Zone. Spring is sprouting in Western New York; I am vaccinated; the River of Life flows onward again, and with love and gratitude, so do I.

Turning Point?

Dogman, Rabbitgirl, Spitalfields, Statue

On January 21st, the day after the US presidential inauguration, I was at a pharmacy waiting for a prescription and started chatting with a woman from my home community.

               “The world is crazy!” she opened.

“I hope we can all come back together again. There is a hunger for that.” (My response was from a ‘nudge’ as to how to respond to her distress.)

Just then a man whom I had not seen until then, another patron community member who must have overheard our conversation, stepped forward gruffly. He was wearing a faded US flag kerchief as a face covering, and he avoided any eye contact with me or the other lady, just paced about stoically, waiting also for something from the pharmacist.  I believed he might have been a neighbor from across the street who avoided connecting or talking to me when we had both been raking leaves in November. If so, he and his son (I assume) have had a large T flag hoisted, and I have wondered about how such as his own sub-community might be feeling since the stressful post-election national events.

Handshake, Regard, Cooperate, Connect

The pharmacist gave me the ointment for my dog Sophie’s eyes, and as a bonus I was able to set an appointment for a first round covid vaccination (which I received 3 days later = today!) But here’s the thing:  I arrived back to my house around an hour or so later, and guess what? My neighbor had removed the T flag!

images are from pixabay.com

I hope the words I felt prompted to say, that I hope we can all come back together again, might actually have registered with my neighbor as a waking dream for him, something that could help him to open his heart.  Surely we have a long way to go to restore balance if not unity, but it is a goal I find worth pursuing. We can reach out to one another, whenever and however possible.