A number of weeks ago, in the May 15th “Are we there yet”, I wrote that with the re-opening of the economy, we would see new anxieties and stresses about what is appropriate behavior. We are now seeing a big debate on whether to wear masks. Locally, I know a restaurant group which will require masks and will have a zero-tolerance policy. They understand that they may lose some business but feel strongly that they better protect their employees and patrons by requiring masks. I commend them for having a rule and sticking to it. The issue with just suggesting one way or the other is that many people have very different opinions on what is appropriate. The mask debate is just one issue creating stress but the reason I bring it up is that since the onset of Covid, I have been impressed with how we all have come together as a community to try to stop the spread. The phrase “stronger together” has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal spring. But I’m now starting to see a shift toward impatience and a lack of tolerance and respect for other people’s opinions and actions. It’s not a scientific study but more my observations and not just related to masks. I do believe that we are better and stronger when we work together as a community and it would be disappointing to see it end. I think that part of the issue is that most people are worn out from worrying about health, employment, the economy, social justice, etc.
I find that when I’m stressed, I’m more liable to respond to circumstances with less patience, just ask my kids. But there are some things that I try to do to avoid what I would normally consider to be an inappropriate reaction. The first thing I do is take a deep breath and think of all the blessings in my life. I also try to imagine that perhaps the person who I am dealing with may have issues in his or her life that are creating stress for them and that whatever action they took was not really directed at me but a reflection on whatever trauma they may be dealing with at the time. Maybe they just lost their job, have a sick relative, or maybe are just stuck in a situation where they can’t find a way out. By imagining that I am stepping into their shoes, I find that I have a much higher level of empathy and my own emotional state goes from angry with a desire to fight back to understanding with a desired to help. Hopefully, this response results in reduced tension and, even more important, lower blood pressure.
This week’s selections are below:
- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.
- Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks —by Diane Butler Bass. This book untangles our conflicting understandings of gratitude and sets the table for a renewed practice of giving thanks. The author explores the transformative, subversive power of gratitude for our personal lives and in communities and shows how a practice of gratitude can help us make change in our own lives and in the world.
- Little Fires Everywhere — follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. Based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller, the story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
- Cautionary Tales – We tell our children unsettling fairy tales to teach them valuable life lessons, but these Cautionary Tales are for the education of the grown ups – and they are all true.