Push Back Against Weariness
by Trudy Boyle
This morning each person I talked to claimed to be exhausted. With good reason. In my city I just discovered there is a riskier color than Covid red. It is Covid grey. Furthermore, grey means a full legally enforceable lockdown and my entire province is now designated grey. Between Covid and politics the world has grown weary and dreary.
The problem is, and I am out on a limb here, there is truly little we can do about fixing this. I am not talking about turning a blind eye or burying our head in the sand. Of course, we can write, call, donate, vote, mask up, stay home and keep our distance. We can take our obligations and responsibilities of citizenship seriously.
But I am thinking about today. This minute, hour, and morning. We have people counting on us who are living alone, maybe sick, grieving, or struggling. There are deaths and births; our children and grandchildren; our neighbors; family and friends; strangers too, who everyday need a kind word and a reason to celebrate life and love. Furthermore, there is work that only each of us can do and it requires our hands, feet, heart, and brain power to get the job done.
There is no time to lose, and it is possible to choose each morning to consciously push back against all the havoc, and create tiny pockets of joy, beauty, laughter, and good cheer for those we live with and those we work with.
We can be the one to throw the line with a sweet surprise dangling at the end. Do you remember the fishponds from our childhood? We can become the maker of good surprises. We are all creating our legacy through this time. This is part and parcel of our life right now.
With that in mind, it is worth the effort to not give in and surely not to give up. What is something each of us can do right where we are and right now to cheer one another on? We can serve as the reminder that the world has been in worse shape before and we have prevailed. And ordinary people doing ordinary things can made it better through their words, actions, smiles and good hearts.
Here is a story I love, told by Richard P Hayes, a Professor of Buddhist studies.
“The sixteen months that I lived in Japan proved in many ways to be a major turning point in my life. As I settled into the new routine, I had many occasions to reflect on kindness and hatred.
One afternoon I went outside to play baseball with the students of the Indian Philosophy Department of Hiroshima University, and we played until dark. When we came back into the study room of the department, Professor Uno, the chairman of the department, was busy binding books for his students. I found it moving that he would care for his students in this way, because I had grown unaccustomed to professors doing, such acts of kindness. Eventually I observed that he stayed late almost every evening to bind books or do other tasks that would make life easier for the students in his department.
Once I mentioned Professor Uno’s kindness to Professor Katsura, and he said simply ‘Professor Uno has known suffering.’ I went back to my apartment and sat down and spent several hours thinking about that simple statement. Tears came to me eyes as I thought about what a beautiful way had been found to deal with one’s own personal suffering: to transform it into kindness towards others.”
Let us consider the simple acts of kindness, and seeking and creating beauty to share, in the here and now. Sketch or photograph the beautiful red cardinal or cedar waxwing, outside your window, or maybe find one glorious sentence we can send to another that will remind us both of how we want to be in the world. What have we got to lose?
In the words of poet, Marge Piercy, “zigzagging (along) you there, and me here making our own road onward as the snail does…and wherever you wake up is here, the right place to be, where we start again”.
With love and gratitude and a thousand good wishes,
Trudy Boyle is coordinator for the Living Fully with Illness program at the ToDo Institute and a frequent contributor to Thirty Thousand Days. She brings 29 years of experience teaching the principles of Japanese Psychology, and for the past 13 years she has focused entirely on Living Fully with Illness. Trudy is the fo......