Thoughts Along the Path . . .
What were you doing two years ago today? Depending on your own life circumstances, my own experience that day may have been the same for you or at least close. In any case, I think it’s safe to say that around this time two years ago pretty much everything changed.
According to my notes, we had received advance notice that the next day anything considered “non-essential” would be shutting down. Just one day earlier I had been in a coffee shop, though half of the chairs had been removed. I had also gone to the grocery, where people were eyeing each other with caution. And so on through the day. And then the next morning, we began that long period of “stay at home,” “keep your distance,” masks, vaccinations, and ever so much more. For two long years.
Time passed and our daily lives became more manageable, or perhaps we became accustomed to our new ways. I am astonished by how adaptable and resilient we humans can be.
I also remember those early days and months when there was an outpouring of gratitude for everyone who continued to work on our behalf. From emergency workers to delivery personnel, they were our heroes. People opened windows to shout out their thanks. At 7pm people stood outside to share applause. Banners, curbside signs, newspaper ads, billboards – we were surrounded by gratitude for those who took care of us, informed us, guided us, and sacrificed for us.
News media also brought us bright moments. People in Italy singing opera from their balconies. Elderly people raising awareness and funds by walking their backyards for hours at a time. Reports and photographs of waterways and skies becoming cleaner. Artists and performers finding new ways to share their creativity. Technology enabling personal and business connections to be sustained, enhanced, or newly established. These positive, uplifting incidents bring me a sense of gratitude as well as respect and admiration for others.
And now, two years later, with still so much to be thankful for, we are gradually reinventing our lives. Cautiously getting out more, mingling with friends, even daring to make plans. We will never get back those two years, and tragically too many died during that time while countless others sustained losses in education, profession, finance, relationships, and health – both physical and mental.
Eager as I am to get past this, I also want to learn from those two years. Rather than focussing on what I lost, I want to maintain a state of gratitude. We did get through this, though the future is of course unknown. But here we are with the opportunity for new outlooks. I tried to stay optimistic, but I admit that I didn’t always succeed. This quotation from the Baha’i Writings helped me to keep going: “If we are not happy and joyous at this season, for what other season shall we wait and for what other time shall we look?”
My happiness and joy are intricately tied to feeling grateful. Grateful to be alive, grateful for the bounties of my life, and grateful for the people who throughout these two years have enabled me to reach this point. Without the service, sacrifice, and fortitude of many others – where would we be now?
Another quotation from the Baha’i Writings explains it well: “Be generous in prosperity, thankful in adversity.” Hopefully our collective response to the reopening of our lives will be not only happy and joyful but also grateful and generous.
Submitted to Ayr News by Jaellayna Palmer, March 2022
© Jaellayna Palmer 2022