Let’s Lighten the Loads, Y’All

I’ve been debating whether or not I wanted to write something about COVID-19, mostly for the mere fact that I feel, since the whole world is closed, the only thing we talk about, read about, think about, see about IS Coronavirus, and it seems that EVERYONE has their own little thing to say about it–“I’m an infectious disease doctor and I say wear a face mask”, “I’m also an infectious disease doctor and I say don’t wear a face mask”, “I’m a politician and I say the media is overhyping this”–“I’m a politician and I say the media is not giving enough coverage”–“I’m a mom and I say vaccinate your kids”–“I’m a mom and I say don’t vaccinate your kids”–“I’m an economist and I say buy all the stocks and bonds!”–“I’m an economist and I say don’t buy anything!”–that it all gets overwhelming to know what to read, who to believe, which infinite rabbit hole to go down, and at some point, we need to limit our exposure to it (that’s punny!)

And, like many of you, I’ve felt hopeless in this whole thing. I see the devastating stories about what is happening in the global ER’s–the exhausted doctors and nurses with bruises on their faces, the depletion in PPE, the rising number of people flooding in and the National Guard setting up emergency hospitals and morgues. I’m a Type 1 Enneagram, a do-er, and if I had a degree in healthcare, I’d 100% be volunteering my time to help, to pick up extra shifts and to re-arrange my schedule to help, donate whatever I could to the cause. But I don’t, and I’m not, so instead, I sit at home and read about whatever triage is happening beyond my four walls. I don’t have any PPE stored at my house that I could courageously take to the PPE drives, and I don’t have a sewing machine to make some makeshift masks. I don’t already work for King Soopers,  so I’m not extending my shifts to stock shelves and set up Clicklist for people. I’m not in law enforcement in which I am responding to welfare checks, my iron levels are always low, so I can’t donate blood, and inviting my friends’ kids over to play so the moms can avoid some chaos is out of the question as well.

Beyond having no resources to give, I’ve been trying to think of ways that I, as a single individual, could help and what I’ve established is that I can commit myself to doing is to lighten the loads for other people. The systems are overwhelmed, people are overwhelmed. Resources are at max capacity, mental states are at max capacities, we are all just running around, trying to figure out what is going on in a world that is changing hour by hour, minute by minute. But, one thing I can certainly do is to lighten the load for other people. Before all of this happened, I would argue that this world is hard enough. People undergo devastating and catastrophic events in their lives that–why do we make other people’s lives more difficult on them?

This is a tough situation for all of us. At some point throughout this, everyone will have at least one breakdown, whether that come in the form of your significant other coughing a little too loudly, your kid singing Frozen 2 one more time, your dog scratching at the door. As Americans, we’ve been told we must always be busy-busy-busy. Busy working, busy exercising, busy making our dreams come true, picking up side hustles, going to see motivational speakers, plotting out an action plan, reading books and listening to podcasts to busy ourselves–that when we are ask to simply just rest–just be–to do nothing, we feel a sense of panic. And, I think doubly, many of us are still traumatized by the -07-’08 recession that we feel all of those emotions flooding back to us. So, it feels strange to just be doing nothing, and for doing nothing to be ‘what heroes’ are made of.

While seemingly minor, perhaps lightening the load for other people could also be a piece of that ‘heroism’ the media seems to classify this as–

I can suspend non-essential online shopping. I’m (relatively) young and healthy. I don’t live with an immunocompromised person nor do I require any direct contact with the elderly, which means that I should reserve resources for those who need it. While I do have an inordinate amount of time that I could be online shopping and picking out home decor on Amazon, since Amazon is so overloaded they must suspend shipments except for non-essentials, whatever unnecessary item I’m ordering on Amazon could prevent or delay someone from receiving their own essential items.

I can reserve online grocery ordering for those who need it (and wear my mask into the grocery store). Clicklist is a great option, but when orders are backed up as far as next week, I should save those time slots for those who are in the high-risk category–first of all, I have food in my pantry that can get us by, so making emergency runs to the grocery store is unnecessary. We may not be eating filet mignon every night for dinner, but we will be fed. And, I am perfectly able to go into the grocery store and sanitize my items when I get home (or just skip the grocery store, because while I would really like to replace the bag of Skittles I ate last night, it’s not really a staple in my diet…)

And, I can be mindful about the loads that I am asking other people to lug for me. Of course, it is perfectly acceptable to feel disappointed, dismayed, and depleted–we are all grieving lost and unopened experiences we hoped to have, whether that was attending our senior prom that is now cancelled, our dreams of having our families at the hospitals when our baby was born, the wedding we intended to have, the vacation we spent months planning. And everyone is adjusting to a new, temporary life that they had 12 hours to put together. So when I think about the content I’m sharing on my social media, the conversations I’m having with my colleagues, the messages I’m responding to with my friends and family, I try to ask myself, first, “will this make their loads a little heavier?”–and if so, maybe I don’t post it, say it, send it, etc.

Thomas Rhett says, “In a world full of hate, be a light”. Maybe it means signing my emails with a colorful and fun font or participating in the 8 PM howling events. It could mean sending funny Tiger King memes and refraining from re-sharing doom & gloom memes. Or, perhaps it just means doing a little more yoga to add some more lightness to world.

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