I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and as you may know, my hometown has been ordered to shelter-in-place until at least April 7. We’re the first in the country to do this.
I’m not going to lie. This is a scary and uncertain time. Over the past week, I’ve observed (and experienced) intense fear, sadness and grief. I’ve also observed (and experienced) amazing optimism, patience, kindness, strength and generosity in myself and others.
In addition, I’m seeing that people are figuring out different ways to be together, apart.
- Over the past few days, I have talked to friends and family members I haven’t spoken with or seen in months.
- People in Italy are singing with each other from their balconies.
- I’ve engaged (while six feet apart, of course) with people I’ve encountered outside my home. We’ve listened to one another. We’ve laughed together. We’ve shared hopes, opinions, advice and fears.
- My local exercise studio has put their classes online so we can still work out together, from home.
- My best friend and I started sending short videos back and forth on the app Marco Polo (which honestly I didn’t know existed before yesterday), seeing who can make the other person laugh harder.
Although we’ve all been told to practice social distancing, it doesn’t mean we have to be disconnected from one another.
In fact, this is an incredible opportunity. An opportunity to figure out what real connection means to each of us, and to learn how to bring this connection into our lives when it matters most.
How do you like to feel connected? Do you like to reach out to your loved ones, or do you prefer that someone to reach out to you? Do you like a little conversation followed by a break and some solitude, or chatting continuously throughout the day? Do you want to talk about what’s going on, or do you want to stick to the non-virus topics for the time being? Ask for what you need, and ask other people what they need. Be honest. Meet somewhere in between.
Whatever it looks like, take some time today to seek out a connection. Just one. Your friends, your family, your coworkers, your neighbors…you never know who might be feeling really scared or alone, who might desperately need to connect with someone but for whatever reason feel that they can’t.
If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis and need to talk to someone right now, reach out to Crisis Text Line. Volunteers are available 24/7 to listen and help, for free.
Like the virus itself, we’re not taking these social distancing precautions just to protect ourselves, but to protect each other. Because we’re a community, and the success of a community relies on everyone working together. Even when we’re apart.
PS: If you like meditation and want a free guided mediation for anxious thoughts emailed to you, click here for one I made several months ago. It’s free.