Happy Summer! As the longest day of the year begins to fade throughout the summer, I’m hoping the warm weather will continue healing not only our nation, but the entire planet. However, being sequestered inside for three and a half months has been a blessing for Mother Earth.
I took the spring off from writing Happiness Box Project Initiative newsletters. I decided to take a step back and I meditated about whether this was something I wanted to continue. After several e-mails from others stating that they enjoy reading about my Happiness Box Project, I thought I would continue after a pause.
I will confess that I was gung-ho about finishing Happiness Box 2019’s scrapbook and my attention went to that project instead. I ended up finishing the scrapbook in five months instead of the 9-10 months it usually takes me to finish Happiness Box scrapbooks. This quarantine helped me get caught up and it felt nice to be creative again. Before the quarantine, I was feeling burnt out and needed a pause. I can honestly say that I am probably one of the few people who has loved this quarantine and being physically distant.
While things looked bleak as winter turned into spring, I decided to notice the small things of quarantine life: kindness. Although we were physically distant, we all came closer together socially over the internet or six feet apart.
I still took my daily walks and it was nice seeing other people doing the same. I saw people I haven’t seen in years because I usually don’t have the time or I’m out galivanting. From six feet away, we chatted, we caught up and the best gift of all, we laughed. As the spring went on, I started saying hi to people sitting out on their porches, and they engaged in conversation with me. It felt good to get to know neighbours again, but also others in the community. It was also nice seeing socially distant “block parties” while on my walks, neighbours coming out from their homes, and sitting across the street from others, chatting and laughing.
It was also beautiful to hear about different athletes paying the salary of stadium workers who can’t work because of the quarantine cutting seasons short. Michael Che, beloved comedian on Saturday Night Live, also paid the rent to the residents of the apartment complex his grandmother used to live in. Sadly, Che’s grandmother died from COVID-19 complications. It was also beautiful to see regular people helping out essential workers.
Holidays looked different this spring too. I usually go out to eat for Passover, but this year I was at home. Different organizations I belong to hosted Zoom classes because I was not the only one who was preparing a Seder for the first time. I felt grateful that these classes were held, and I also felt grateful for the City-Data community’s help. I ended up making gluten-free Matzo ball soup, charoset, and chicken, and served the meal to my parents. I also feel grateful that my parents were open to celebrating as well. They enjoyed the Seder.
For Easter, my two cousins came, but we sat six feet apart from them. I heated up some food I had left over from the Seder and it was a beautiful celebration of co-existence. Simple, but kind and together, which has described some of my quarantine experiences. I’m hoping that these kind experiences follow us once the world returns to “normal.”
Of course, I also experienced hardships throughout this period. In March, a family friend died from a ruptured colon. She was 90 and because of the quarantine, there was no funeral. Recently there has been another death and I fear that a service may be postponed. When goodbyes are postponed, I feel like there is no sense of closure and the grief is prolonged. I’ve had other friends who have experienced death throughout COVID-19 and felt the same feelings.
I planned on writing a kindness article last month, after I finished Happiness Box 2019’s scrapbook, but then the murder of George Floyd plunged the world into endless chaos. Looting, rioting, unrest, it seems like the world changed from unkind in a heart beat and I felt that writing about kindness wouldn’t be the right time, especially as the black community and our friends often feel an unkind world and not welcomed all the time.
Yet, from being sequestered inside for so long, most people saw the systemic inequalities that our colleagues, friends, and our faith communities experience daily. We have been coming together and I noticed the helpers that were trying to bring people together. Machine Gun Kelly ever handed out water during the marches in Cleveland, along with PPE.
We then lost power for three days after a rare derecho hit our area. My parents went away when the derecho hit and one neighbour let me charge my phone on his generator. Another neighbour offered to pick up food for me, and two other neighbours offered to cut down the tree branches that fell. My great aunt let me stay with her until the power came back on. This kindness still makes me feel verklempt.
Spring was a turbulent time mixed with sorrows, joy, kindness, family, and friendship. It will be interesting to see what the Summer will bring; whether we will still be playing Calvin Ball, where the rules always change, or if we will return to some sense of “normal.” Whatever it brings, please always remember that there will always be kindness. As Mr. Rogers once said, “when I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Please be helpful to the world around you and always be kind.