Take a couple of slow breaths, and notice where you are right now on the range from calm to anxious, settled to frantic. With kind eyes, look back at this pandemic year.
In April 2021, the worldwide Covid pandemic continues to be unevenly distributed. India is undergoing a devastating surge with a horrific death toll. In the United States, the vaccine has become more widely available, although infection rates and vaccine availability continue to vary by county and community.
A year ago, most of us were experiencing uncertainty and terror. We knew we were in a pandemic, but we did not know how it would unfold. Now we know much more about Covid and about how we individually are coping with pandemic restrictions. We know where and how we can get groceries, and how and when to wear masks.
What understanding of yourself and others have you harvested from this difficult year? Have you grown more embodied or fled further from yourself?
Priorities in a crisis
What did you learn about your priorities? In a crisis, what did you do first for yourself? What did you do first for others? Did you reach out online or settle into solitude? What parts of your life became more necessary than ever, and what parts fell away?
What did you stock up on that surprised you? I squirreled away several jars of honey at the beginning of the pandemic, probably because as a child I got a spoonful of honey in my tea when I had a cold. It felt oddly comforting to know I would not run out.
Vulnerabilities and strengths
How have you cared for your vulnerabilities? Perhaps you know you are prone to depression and made sure to get outside every day and limit your news intake. What comforts did you bring in to ease pandemic life? Did new vulnerabilities or triggers arise?
What survival skills helped you get through? Perhaps the habit of getting a little bit done at a time helped you complete a project in the midst of pandemic stresses. Maybe your emergency supplies carried you through the period of empty grocery shelves. Maybe you have nurtured community connections where you could give and get help as needed. What new strengths came to light? Thank your past self for gifts of preparation and strength.
How have you passed the time? Did you work long hours as a nurse, first responder, or delivery driver? Did you transition to working at home, perhaps while helping children with school? Did you spend time reading, watching TV, or listening to music? Perhaps you dusted off past hobbies like gardening or sewing.
What new skills and habits have you learned over the past year? Have you become an expert at using Zoom? Taken up solo yoga? I am enjoying the Down Dog Yoga app and its companion meditation app.
Outpouring of care
Contrary to predictions that people will turn on each other in a crisis, there has been an outpouring of love and care as people have created and participated in organizations to mend what they can reach. In Corvallis, Oregon, the volunteers of the Corvallis Sewing Brigade have sewn and donated nearly 100,000 fabric masks. One of my friends made 1,700 masks over the past year.
Across the world, performers and teachers have offered free online concerts and classes. For example, the US Library of Congress is offering a series of concerts. Behind the scenes, clusters of hardworking volunteers make those events possible.
What kindnesses have you offered or accepted over this year? What seems like a small gesture to you might have made a huge difference to the recipient.
Adaptations to keep
What has been better than you expected? What has been worse? Of the many activities that have moved online, which have been not ideal, but better than nothing? I attended online singing workshops based in San Francisco, Hungary, and the Republic of Georgia. While I would rather have been singing all together in one room, I would not have gotten to learn from all these teachers in person.
As we slowly ease pandemic restrictions, what adaptations will you keep? I will continue offering online sessions to keep my work accessible for people who cannot travel to see me in person. I will keep doing yoga on my own, since fragrance sensitivity had already made yoga studios inaccessible to me.
For your future self
What gifts of preparation and strength are you putting in place for your future self? What projects are you starting? What skills are you practicing? What are you setting up to look forward to? What open space are you creating for the unknown to emerge? Plan for your future self the way you would plan for a visit from a beloved friend.
- ‘The system has collapsed’: India’s descent into Covid hell by Hannah Ellis-Petersen, April 21, 2021.
- Concerts from the Library of Congress, including a great series of Folklife concerts.
- Down Dog Yoga app creates a new customized practice each time you use it.