Cancellation is the word of the day. School cancelled. Church services cancelled. Travel plans cancelled. Family reunions cancelled. We are honoring all the cancellations, because they are being made in the service of keeping us all safer.
For our Moms Clean Air Force community, we’re making changes, too. We’re cancelling in-person events for March and April, cancelling or holding on meetings with lawmakers, and all staff are working from home. We’re discussing among our team how to support each of our communities, and in particular those families and businesses for whom this is an extreme hardship.
These are frightening times; there are so many unknowns, and there is so much misinformation floating around to fan our fears.
I’ve found that when I feel myself getting overwhelmed with anxiety about cancellation, it is helpful to remind myself of all the things in our lives that are not cancelled. There’s some wonderful social media going around on that front: Not cancelled: Laughter. Music. Friends.
My colleagues and I have started adding to that list and sharing it with one another: some of us turn up the music, and dance. Some of us pick up our knitting needles. Some of us hover over the stove. Some of us sit in wonder at the sight of a spectacular sunset — or sunrise.
You can all add to the list, and I highly encourage sharing lists with family and friends. Many of our children are picking up on our anxieties, and feeling their own, without necessarily knowing how to deal with it.
But let me also add a few less tangible things that are not cancelled:
Listening: Ask family and friends how they are feeling, and simply hear them out.
Compassion: Understand that everyone is going to respond differently, that we all have different ranges of anxiety, and that that’s okay. Now is not the time to judge harshly.
Community: We may be keeping a distance from one another. But that doesn’t mean we don’t bear responsibility for each other, indeed, that’s why we are staying home. For the protection of the greater good. Also for the greater good: tell your elected officials to help protect those most in need of help.
High standards: Hold yourself to your highest ideals of behavior. Model them.
Generosity: One friend arrived with masses of pink flowers, an armful of spring. Leave gifts on doorsteps. Offer to do grocery or drugstore runs for those in need. Call a grocery delivery and pay it forward — offer to cover the bill of someone in need. Give your time and attentiveness to those who are having trouble getting food. And be thankful for all that we do have.
Sharing: Start an online book club or movie club with friends. Right now I cannot get enough of Babylon Berlin from Netflix, I’m reading up on the Weimar Republic, and looking for good discussions about it!
None of these is cancelled, and indeed, all of them are needed now more than ever.
All these activities open up paths to HOPE. And right now, besides staying healthy or getting well, the most important thing we can do is to make sure that hope can never be cancelled.