Do Not Grow Weary of Doing GoodJan 05, 2021
2020 smacked us all across the face.
Many got smacked more harshly than others. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s been like for those who’ve lost friends or family to COVID, nor for those who were stricken by it and still recovering. Add to the ever-lurking virus itself the realities of being locked down to varying degrees for the past 9 months (and counting) and it’s abundantly clear there’s a lot of suffering going on around us and in our homes. Many of us have lost work, had difficulty receiving our proper UI benefits, and are struggling to pay our rent, mortgage and debts, let alone get food on the table. Parents who are fortunate enough to have kept their jobs and are working from home are now also learning to home school their children – which, as a homeschooling parent myself, I can tell you is no easy task. Rates of depression, abject loneliness, suicide, spousal and child abuse, and divorce have all skyrocketed. Stress is off the charts.
Though our health is good, we’ve suffered some in my own family. We lost significant work and now find ourselves needing to consider a move to a less expensive state. My dear father-in-law died in October, from complications of dementia, though he was such a social creature, it's more apt to say he died of a broken heart not understanding why he couldn't see any of his loved ones. We were unable to fly to Canada to be with family there and, as of yet, no services are planned. My beloved stepmother is in the throes of advanced Parkinson’s disease complicated by rapid onset of dementia, and my father, at 93, is still her primary care giver. None of their children can be with them for any amount of meaningful time, and some of us can’t get there at all.
I think it’s fairly obvious these kinds of overwhelming stresses, which I know are shared by many of you, really do have a bearing on our work. How could they not? Worry, fear, frustration, helplessness, sorrow and depression aren’t exactly the emotional and psychological conditions from which our best work flows. Often, they make it easier for us to sink further and take on other not so productive feelings like envy, jealousy, blame, and anger. Throw in plenty of civil unrest and a tumultuous election cycle breeding uncertainty of its own, and it becomes all too easy to forget who we are, why we’re here, and what we are about.
So, at the start of this new year brimming with both hope and uncertainty, please allow me to remind you:
You are a beautiful creature, wonderfully made with love and care and infinite possibility. You are here to share the wealth of your gifts and the illumination of your light to make the world better in ways only you can. You are here to give voice to words of inspiration, humor, and understanding. You are here to imbue with life an author’s ideas and an animator’s characters. You are here to speak inventions into existence and help bring entrepreneurs’ creations to market, keeping the wheels of the world’s commerce turning. You are here to share the full wealth of your experience, including the ways in which you suffer and struggle. By sharing, you ease the burden of those who are also suffering and believe themselves to be alone. They are not alone, and neither are you.
In many ways we are being pushed to our limits, and I for one have had unexpected moments where I feel like I’m going to crack. It’s in these moments I am most vulnerable to acting outside of my character and values and devolving into someone too far from my best self.
The truth is, we’re all waiting to exhale. We’re waiting for life to “get back to normal” even as we struggle to remember what “normal” is. We want a break. We want a reprieve. And I don’t think I’m alone when I say I want to throw my arms around my friends and hug them. We’ve been waiting a long time and we are weary.
Because life is full of paradoxes, the only thing I have found that’s brought about a modicum of hope to my heavy heart this past year is doing a little good here and there for the people around me; offering a kindness (no matter how small) to my daughter, a neighbor, even a passerby - especially when I don't "feel" like it. I’ve also worked hard at being patient with those close to me. Taking a breath when I feel like snapping. Refraining from complaint. Offering a kind word rather than a snarky one. Such gestures might go unnoticed, but they also go a remarkably long way to remind me of the humanity and fragility of others, as well as myself.
And so, as we step into the new year, rather than attempt to pump you (and myself) full of New Year’s Resolution platitudes (and unrealistic weight loss goals) I offer this beauty of a thought, which I’ve chosen as my mantra for 2021:
Do not grow weary of doing good.
Simple, right? But not so easy. In fact I'll go so far as to say that doing good requires conscious and focused effort and sometimes nerves of steel, especially in times of trial.
Nonetheless. Write it down. Put it on the fridge. Pin a note in your car and in your booth. That’s what I’m going to do.
Do not grow weary of doing good.
Let’s act on it, shall we? Let's do the hard work of kindness - even in the midst of our stress and worry. We’ll contribute a little love to a desperate world in serious need. And I’m pretty sure we’ll end up with happier hearts, as well.
Here’s to a better 2021.
Trust and Be Brave,
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