Finding beauty in times of turmoil is a gift.
Creating art, creating joy out of devastation is something the world doesn’t see enough of, and when we do, it should be reveled in.
To those who are finding beauty and creating joy, I stand in awe of you and appreciate what you are able to give the world, now more than ever.
This is not a call for unwarranted cynicism or encouragement to wallow in despair.
What this is, I hope, is an honest and (truly) friendly reminder that, although we are in many ways more connected by a universal experience than ever, there is still so much disparity in the ways each person is coping with this pandemic.
The boom of free at-home workouts and yoga classes and meditations is generous, welcomed, and needed for many. The environmental “silver linings” give me hope that we could actually make a difference for the good of our planet, if we really tried. The small groups of friends gathering for scrabble and families joining 10-way FaceTime calls brings a smile to my face every single time I see it, even if I’m looking at a screenshot of perfect strangers.
These and the many other reminders for remaining “positive” and “productive” during social isolation and quarantine should not stop.
But please be aware, and consider publicly acknowledging alongside any public acknowledgments of how to stay positive and productive, that this is not all a matter of choice and perspective and mental grit.
The reality of high-risk family members or loved ones contracting the virus is not a matter of perspective.
The reality for many of running out of food and money is not a matter of perspective.
The reality of children, women, and men who are now quarantined with abusive caretakers or partners is not a matter of perspective.
The reality of hard-won local businesses crumbling, and the livelihoods of the owners and employees along with them, is not a matter of perspective.
The reality of those with mental health issues that are exacerbated by extreme isolation or anxiety is not a matter of perspective.
The reality of delivery service men and women, nurses, doctors, grocery store attendants, bank tellers, and all of those providing us essential services having to face exposure every single day while watching their friends struggle to beat “boredom” at home or decide which long lost creative endeavor they’ll start participating in is not a matter of perspective.
We are all experiencing this together, but we are not all experiencing it equally.
So please, don’t stop creating art. Don’t stop reminding us how we can stay mentally and physically active while isolated. Don’t stop pumping hope out into the world with every chance you have.
But don’t ignore those other experiences, either.
Don’t forget to suggest donating to a local food bank or women’s shelter alongside your next book list.
Don’t forget to support a local business with a gift card for every Amazon delivery you’re counting on to bide your time.
Don’t forget that remaining positive could be lifesaving for some, and acknowledging suffering could be equally lifesaving for others.
In a time where we seem to need a little bit of everything all at once—hope, understanding, clear communication, artistic expression, facts, support, just enough fear to take it seriously but not so much that it’s crippling, sympathy, empathy, generosity, unity, isolation—in a time like this, please, don’t forget compassion.