That phrase just echoed through my mind, as the person who drafts those Easy Card reminder emails it floats up quite naturally when I think about writing to you all. But it has new and greater meaning now. So I will repeat myself:
We miss You.
And we hope you are doing well.
When we made the decision to close our doors during this crisis, just hours before the shelter in place ordinances came down from our county leaders, it was done with heavy hearts and with absolute belief that the best way we could be in service to our community at the time was to stop offering our services. But making those phone calls to cancel upcoming appointments, ooof, it was hard. We reeled thinking of all the people we would be letting down, of the isolation, anxiety, flare-ups of chronic pain and so much more that we wouldn’t be there to help with. The staggering realization that our driving instinct- to physically show up and help people- that led us to our rolls as CA punks, needed to be suppressed in service to a greater good.
But I have made a point of looking for the gifts we may find amidst this roiling turmoil that we face. Things I hope to remember and hold onto when this is over. And even in those heartbreaking phone calls, I found some. I found a new feeling behind the phrases we typically say by rote when leaving a conversation: wishing someone a good day, to take care, or be well. I cannot think of another time that I have said those things so many times in a row, and meant them with the deepest sincerity every single time. Nor have I ever hoped so much that people could hear that sincerity and take it to heart.
I have seen this phenomenon spiral out into the world, whether it is greeting neighbors (from a safe distance of course), friends on the phone, or the person in front of you in line at the store, I see and hear a genuine pleasure in the interaction and very real wish for others to take care and stay safe.
Similarly, the sudden loss of my ability to provide care for you all crystalized how meaningful that ability is. Like anything that is done day in and out, we punks sometimes lose sense of the power of our work. Especially when we work with chronic issues (which we do a lot) the true impact of our work can get muddled in the new status quo we have helped facilitate. Realizing all the ground we stand to lose by this interruption in treatment helps bring to light the incredible impact of that day in and out activity. And while, if given the choice between carrying on in the muddle or this experience here, I would choose the muddle, I don’t have that choice. So, I am acknowledging this little nugget of insight to help fuel inspiration in months and years to come.
You should fully expect to see that inspiration lighting up our faces when we open our doors again, which Jeff and Whitney are working very hard to make sure will happen as soon as it is safe to do so.
In the meantime, be kind to yourselves in thought and in deed. Allow yourselves some hours to wallow in fear and uncertainty, binge watch a TV series, read crime thrillers or romance novels, eat that extra handful of chips, scream into a pillow, cry over those sappy Verizon commercials (you know the ones I’m talking about), let yourself off the hook a little, you’ve got a lot going on, it’s OK.
But also: eat nourishing meals, save the rest of those cookies for tomorrow, get some sunshine, brush your teeth and change your clothes. Notice the sky that is a little bluer without as much commuter smog and the birds that you can hear more clearly without as many cars rumbling around. Show gratitude to the person bagging your groceries. Call your friends and talk about your feelings, the weather and that funny video they sent you. Tell the people you love that you love them, and the ones you miss that you miss them. Donate a few bucks to the food bank, offer to help someone else if you can and ask for help if you need it (you’re not the only one). Look for the bright spots and write them down. Are they something you’ve thought about or felt before? If not, think about what you can learn from them, what they mean to you, and how you might carry that meaning into the future when all this is over. All these things can add up and trick us into feeling some things that we might feel are out of reach to us right now: connection, patience, hope.