Mask or no mask? Social distancing or hugs. To vaccinate or not. If we thought we were a culture divided before, now we have more differences to add to the list.
Are you one who is listening to the recommendations of the scientific community, or are you following your own guidelines? For me, I’ve been pretty good about doing what is being suggested.
One of the biggest challenges for me during all of this uncertainty, is feeling how I feel about how we should be acting within our communities, while having to deal with the fact that not all of my family and friends feel the same way. In fact, I seem to be in the minority.
Now, I could totally spend my time this week ranting about why I think my point of view is the right one, but to be honest, that does absolutely zero good. I think in all of the posts I made on social media encouraging others (especially surfers) to stay home, I made one couple change their weekend plans. (Thank you, Alice.)
Of course, that was back in March, and now it’s May. Things have changed. But exactly how much they’ve changed, and what is looming around the corner is yet to be known. One thing we all seem to be able to agree on is that we don’t know what will happen next. Only time will tell.
We have to learn how to live (sometimes in the literal sense) with those who feel differently than we do.
But while we’re waiting, it seems to me that we have to learn how to live (sometimes in the literal sense) with those who feel differently than we do. So instead of ranting and raving, let’s talk about two things that are infinitely more helpful: Acceptance & Flexibility.
My daughter got hired at a pizza joint two days before the school closure happened. Within 48 hours, she lost her senior year of high school, and the new job was questionable…accept that it wasn’t.
When the pizza guy discovered that my kiddo was wanting to work, he was ready to schedule her. That was at the beginning of April, right when we were being told that, “the next two weeks are going to be pivotal”.
She came to me wanting to work. I asked her to please wait the 2 weeks, kind of hoping that she would lose interest. No such luck. At the end of those 2 weeks, she asked to start work again. I was against it.
Problem was my husband supported it and my daughter obviously wanted to do it. I called her Dad down in New Orleans for back up. Certainly, he would support my position as he lives in a hot spot, but nope, he supported it too.
Totally outnumbered, I had a decision to make. I could dig my heals in, pitch a fit, stand my ground, and insist that she didn’t work. I could then deal with the aftermath of anger, disappointment, and depression that living in isolation was causing, especially for the teenagers. Or, I could compromise.
Anxiety plus pandemic, mix in a little bit of OCD “clean genes”, and the fact that I trust my scientific leaders and want to follow their guidelines…well…I live pretty frustrated.
Oy…not an easy compromise for me. We made a deal. While the pizza joint was requiring employees to wear gloves, masks were optional. My deal was that masks are not optional for her. She has to wear one. We also created a checklist of things to do when she gets home from a shift. Her close and mask go right in the washer. Shower immediately. Wipe down doorknobs and whatever she touched on her way in...
She wasn’t thrilled (mostly about the mask), but agreed. That was about a month ago. Now the restaurant is requiring all employees to wear masks (thank goodness), so she doesn’t feel so singled out anymore, and she loves the job. She has been working her booty off and looks forward to her shifts.
All better, right? Not quite. I still have to live with being uncomfortable about it all. Now I’ll admit (and you know) that I have an anxiety issue. Anxiety plus pandemic, mix in a little bit of OCD “clean genes”, and the fact that I trust my scientific leaders and want to follow their guidelines…well…I live pretty frustrated.
All I can do is to continue to speak my truth, respect that their truths are different than my own, and be flexible.
And that brings me to my point. I can’t help feeling frustrated. I can’t help that I feel disappointment in that many of my friends and family are making poor decisions (as I see it). I can’t help that at the root of these poor decisions, I see selfishness. It makes me sad.
But there’s how I feel, and there’s how they feel. All I can do is to continue to speak my truth, respect that their truths are different than my own, and be flexible. I also ask that they be flexible and respect how I feel, and they do.
We are all trying our best to stay true to ourselves and supportive of our loved ones. I think that this may be one of the big lessons of the pandemic. That we can feel differently and yet still be one community. But it does require some give and take on both parts.
I had to call a friend out yesterday because I witnessed him give another friend a hug and then encroach on my space to get an elbow bump. Aren’t elbow bumps like so 2 months ago? I got pretty turned off and retreated to my own space. He sent me an email saying he hoped he didn’t bum me out with his encroachment. I replied honestly that he did and I explained why in detail. I also told him I loved him dearly.
I think the best strategy right now is to keep on stating how we feel and then accept the fact that we may get a statement back that is the complete opposite. Because really, if we zoom the lens out, this is definitely not the first thing that we have disagreed about.
Don’t react. Respond. I'm working on it.
I will admit that it was easier before when most controversial topics paralleled one’s political lines, and we as people seem to congregate with those who have the same views as our own. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with the pandemic.
It’s a real mixed bag, and we either have to be ok with that, or live in a state of anxiety and frustration, and that will do nothing but lead to massive amounts of resentment. I really don’t want that to happen.
For me, I have to stop before I react with a bunch of yelling word vomit that begins with, “What the fuck is wrong with you!?!?” I sit for a minute and think about how I feel, and how the other person feels, and how I can best respond to what’s happening. Don’t react. Respond. I’m working on it.
So, don't punch your friends who think differently than you do. For one, you would have to touch them for that! Instead, practice patience and openness...and wear your own mask and wash your own hands as much as you want.
I’d like to know from you, how you’re dealing with your loved ones having a different perspective from your own. Gracefully? Not so gracefully? It’s all ok. We have to start somewhere.
In the comments below tell me if you’ve been reacting, or responding to those with different views from your own.
As always, I believe at the root of everything is love. I wouldn’t be so worried if I didn’t have so many damn people in my life that I love. I want us all to be safe and respected, and at the end of it all, I want us all to still be friends.
The painting at top is Soaring Heart 10, 6”x6”, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.
Pelicans soar just inches from the water, in long single file lines. Each one using the energy from the ocean waves and the bird in front of them, to effortlessly fly without even having to beat their wings. We must work together and respect the fact that we have the ability to lift each other up simply with our own energy. Be kind to one another. For purchase information CLICK HERE.
I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.