Lately I keep thinking about my Grandma Libele. Maybe because her birthday is right around this time. Or maybe for other reasons. Who knows? However, because the universe works this way, something interesting happened to me related to her and my grandpa. A friend of a friend sent me two stones from Lithuania, the country of my grandma’s (and grandpa’s) birth. My grandma would not have said she’s Lithuanian because back in her day (and I mean literally the year of her birth), Lithuania was under the rule of Russia and many Lithuanians at the time identified more strongly with Poland. My grandma would frequently say she was from Poland when asked, but first and foremost she called herself Jewish.

She led with “Jewish” and not “Polish” because she felt so betrayed by her country. I mean, I get it. During World War II she was put into a ghetto apartment with nine other people, including children. She dug her way out of that ground-floor apartment and used the sewer system to escape outside. Her childhood home was burnt to the ground with all the family’s valuables stolen. When she asked former neighbors to shelter her, they refused. Eventually she found a farmer she could bribe with money in her family’s safe deposit box. When the money ran out, so did the sheltering.

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My grandparents could have walked in this field, given the location. Photo by Geda Žyvatkauskaitė on Unsplash

I could keep going and get into more detail but I won’t because this post is not a Holocaust story. Instead, I’m merely sketching the details to say I understand why my grandparents felt betrayed and bitter about everything that happened to them and identified as Jews rather than by their nationality. However, their feelings didn’t die with them. Whenever I meet someone from Lithuania, or see pictures from that country, I feel an ache in my chest. There are unresolved feelings about Lithuania and knowing that, I asked a friend of a friend for a natural artifact.

This weekend I held a Lithuanian stone in each hand and promptly burst into tears. I think I’m the first person in my family to touch anything from Lithuania since 1945. My grandparents never went back to their country of origin and to my knowledge neither has anyone else in my family. I cried so much as I felt the grief and pain associated with leaving there. But I also felt the sweetness, the happiness that comes along with any person’s life. It’s not as if things were all bad in Lithuania – my grandparents had lives before the Holocaust. They laughed, they danced, they sang, they loved. Lithuania has not only traumatic memories for my family, but happy ones too. As I continued to hold the stones, I felt into that and eventually segued into peace.

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What’s cool about this picture is not only am I in it along with my mom, grandma, and brother, but my little sister is in utero!

Lithuania is just a country and the people responsible for my grandparents’ trauma are dead now. And by holding these stones, feeling those feelings, that finally gets to be true. Lithuania doesn’t have the charge it used to. You may be thinking to yourself, “This is such a strange post. Why is she even talking about this?” I mention all of it because trauma doesn’t end with the people directly involved. It carries over, it runs through family lines. Thich Nhat Hanh says in A Lifetime of Peace, “If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”

I am the continuation of my grandparents; you are the continuation of yours. What legacy exists in each of us that we can let go of? That we can heal? I’m sharing a little bit of my story with the hope it will inspire you to dig into your own. You just might find doing so will bring you peace.

I dream of a world where we realize we carry with us things that originated with our ancestors. A world where we honor those who came before us while also letting go of what no longer serves us. A world where we recognize our ancestors, despite being dead, have living legacies and that means those legacies are dynamic – they can change.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

This week I keep thinking about a post I wrote in November 2015. I’m sharing it again now. Enjoy.

The other day I had a conversation with my friend and neighbor about how I’m constantly seeking love from the “other.” And what I’m still learning is how to give love to myself and be OK with my own company. A lot of it comes down to being my own inner loving parent. She reminded me while it’s true it’s important to love ourselves, it’s also important to remember we are the beloved. That we are the divine in physical form and we are already loved and cherished more than we can imagine.

Wow. Take that in for a minute. We are already loved. We are already cherished. We don’t have to do anything to earn love and affection; it’s already here.

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We are all little lovebugs. Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

My spiritual teacher says the same thing, but he adds in a twist and mentions the notion of subject and object. He says when we are meditating, we are thinking of God. In that instance, we think of ourselves as the subject because we are the ones doing, we are the ones meditating. However, in actuality, God is meditating on us and we are the object. I think I’ve heard that a bajillion times and I just. don’t. get. it. Maybe it’s because I never learned grammar in elementary and middle school, but I don’t connect with the subject and object analogy.

I started thinking about this more, puzzling over how to feel into the notion I am the beloved, the beloved is me. I started thinking about the people I love unconditionally, the people I would do anything for, and don’t require anything in return because loving them is enough. One such person is my niece (not by blood), nicknamed Buddha. This is a girl I fell in love with at first sight. I’ve sung her to sleep, I’ve wiped her butt happily while she was potty training, I’ve kissed her, held her, and loved her even while she threw her worst temper tantrums.

It occurred to me God loves me, and us, the way I love my niece. All the love I feel for Buddha, that’s exactly how God feels about me, plus more. I am loved, cherished, and adored beyond measure. Just now I looked up from my computer to the sky outside and saw a heart in the clouds as if to remind me, “Yes, Rebekah, love is everywhere and you are loved that much.”

Pause for a moment and feel into that. Think of some entity, whether it’s a person or a pet, who you love unconditionally. Now imagine all the love you feel for them directed at yourself. Feel the depth and breadth of love for you, for us. It’s already here.

I dream of a world where we feel how loved we are. A world where even at our most alone, we don’t feel lonely because we sense the love of something greater than ourselves. A world where we remember that love and take time to soak it in. A world where we realize we are already loved.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

I consistently wish my life was easier. I fantasize about getting everything I want immediately without any effort. It sounds like heaven. But then I remember a scene from the final season of The Good Place. If you haven’t watched The Good Place and you plan to, stop reading here.

In the penultimate episode, Eleanor and crew finally make it to heaven. And it’s fantastic – it offers cozy dinner parties, stardust milkshakes, music you can eat, and hoverboards. Every whim is indulged immediately. Except, the novelty of constant pleasure wears off and the residents become lackluster, passive, and incurious. In short, heaven is boring.

Watching that episode was the first time it occurred to me that getting everything you want when you want it could be dull. That perhaps we enjoy things because we have to work for them, or we have to wait for them. It was a reminder there’s joy to be found in accomplishing a goal after making an effort, like learning a new language and finding you can understand the majority of a conversation rather than just a word or two. Or working your way up to playing “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano instead of just “Chopsticks.”

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It’s much more exciting to jump over hurdles than to trot in a circle. Photo by Gene Devine on Unsplash

Maybe it’s the obstacles that make life satisfying. A part of me can’t believe I just wrote that because again, I’d take a little more instant gratification and a little less hard work, thanks. However, that’s not flesh and blood life. My spiritual teacher says:

“Can we achieve honor, status and other things that we want in this material world without a struggle? And when we consider our aspiration for development and advancement in the mental world, that also cannot be brought about without a struggle. That is why, everywhere, whether in the crude or subtle sphere, struggle is the essence of life.”

He also says later on, “[I]t is clear that one who wants to keep away from obstacles has lost the essence of life.” I mean, he’s right. Heaven, a place without struggle, is where people go after they’ve lived, according to some traditions. We call it the “afterlife” for a reason. To be alive, to be on planet Earth, requires overcoming obstacles and that’s also what makes life interesting. If I were to watch a TV show where nothing happened, where the main character got everything they wanted immediately without any conflict before or after, I’d be bored. It would be like watching paint dry, and I’m sure some people enjoy that, but I do not.

The shift for me is recognizing that not only do I enjoy watching people overcome obstacles in the media I consume, but in my own life too. That as much as I complain about how things are hard, and I do wish they were easier, my life is far from boring. There are days when I’m bored for sure, but the tenor of my life in general is interesting. A friend of mine says to me frequently, “I’m on the edge of my seat” in regards to witnessing my life unfold. That’s because I have one plot twist after another, which certainly keeps life exciting.

I dream of a world where we recognize without obstacles, life is boring. A world where we understand we enjoy things more if we have to work for them or wait for them. A world where we remember to be alive means to struggle. A world where we embrace that struggle and realize it’s what keeps life interesting.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Being a Spoonie

On Wednesday, I had three personal calls, a work call, went grocery shopping, had my hair cut, walked three miles getting to and fro, wrote an article, washed all my dishes, and made dinner from scratch. By the end of the day, I was completely zonked and chose to bail on my evening Zoom plans. Why? Because I’m a spoonie. I like to pretend I’m not a spoonie, but I’m a spoonie.

For those of you unfamiliar with spoon theory, it’s a metaphor coined by Christine Miserandino as a way to describe what it’s like living with lupus. While out to eat with a friend, Miserandino used spoons to represent the amount of energy she starts each day with. While engaging in different tasks throughout the day, a spoon is taken away. For instance, cooking is one spoon, washing dishes is another spoon, laundry is another spoon, etc. And then when all the spoons are gone, they’re gone. There are no reserves to “push through” and take the dog for a walk because the dog needs to be walked, for example.

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Spoonies, like spoons, come in all shapes and sizes. Photo by Dstudio Bcn on Unsplash

That’s me. Not that I have a dog to be walked, but still. When my energy is depleted, it’s depleted and I can’t force myself to do anything else. But I forget this about myself. I think I can accomplish more than I actually can. When I wake up and I feel fine, not even energetic, just fine, I start doing a million things because I finally have the energy and motivation to print out the return label for a package, or refill my spice jar, for instance. But then after doing things I’ve put off, plus the normal life things, I get to the end of the day and struggle to feed myself. Ay caramba.

I think wrapped up in all this is internalized capitalism. To internalize capitalism means to equate productivity with self-worth. It also means a person feels guilty for resting. That is certainly the case for me. I feel ashamed I’m not able to be “normal” like other people. That four hours after waking up my eyelids start to droop and my brain starts to shut down. I cope by taking a nap, but I don’t love that I plan my day around napping. My friends and family already know about my daily nap, but I feel embarrassed writing about it publicly. Why can’t I be like everyone else? Why can’t I have the energy that some other people have?

There are numerous answers – many of them having to do with genetics and also seven years of not sleeping well. But also life experiences. It’s unrealistic for me to think I can be like other people when we were dealt different cards. Isn’t it possible that if other people were dealt the cards I was, they’d also have what I have? I think so!

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to shed the spoonie label, but what’s more important to me is changing my perspective. To stop internalizing capitalism to the best of my ability given I live in a capitalistic society. To value rest and self-care. To remember the trite expression that I’m a human being and not a human doing. I’m pretty sure no one else cares if I check off every item on my to-do list. Maybe I can start feeling the same way.

I dream of a world where we recognize our inherent self-worth. A world where we remember productivity doesn’t make us good and resting doesn’t make us bad. A world where we practice accepting ourselves as we are. A world where we realize the body has its own limitations and sometimes that makes us spoonies.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Anger has been on my mind lately. Frankly it’s because I’m fuming. On Saturday, I came home to my apartment and found the workmen charged with replacing my bedroom window left my place a mess. Furniture was not returned to its rightful place, area rugs were askew, and pictures lay on the floor. Not only that, I was gifted with dust in every nook and cranny of my bedroom and random paint splatters on my floor. I literally spent an hour and a half vacuuming, scrubbing, washing, and putting things back where they belong. Minus the paint splatters. Those I couldn’t get rid of.

Suffice to say, I am NOT a happy camper. Quite the opposite in fact. As a deeply spiritual person, am I doing something “wrong” by feeling angry? With so many messages in the world about how anger is unnatural, destructive, something to avoid, etc. am I harming myself in the long run by feeling this way? In short, no.

First of all, anger shows up when there’s a boundary violation, as in the case of my apartment. Boundaries help us determine what we are and are not OK with, and if someone crosses the boundary line, that’s when anger often appears. From a nonviolent communication perspective, anger is a messenger notifying me about unmet needs. In this case, unmet needs for consideration and care.

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Sometimes it’s good to “see red.” Photo by Alex Mihai C on Unsplash

The other thing I learned about anger recently is even in my own spiritual tradition anger isn’t a villain the way it’s often portrayed. Don’t get me wrong, my spiritual teacher talks at length about how anger can become a bad habit and even says, “The tendency of anger harms the body, stuns the mind, and creates obstacles for spiritual progress. Shiva, the great yogi, was well aware of this truth, and thus he clearly stated, Krodha eva mahán shatruh – ‘Anger is a great enemy.’”

So yeah, my teacher calls anger an enemy, BUT later on he also makes a distinction between sentient anger and static anger. He says if anger takes control of you, it’s static anger. But anger when it’s used for good, to stop the unholy activities of people in society for instance, is called sentient anger.

What does that mean? My takeaway is that anger cannot be an unconscious controller. The emotion is harmful if it’s unregulated and instead it requires training. A dear friend of mine uses this analogy: Anger can be likened to a guard dog. If it’s untrained, it may bite the mail carrier. Alternatively, the dog may wag its tail and let burglars stroll in and steal your stuff. Neither situation is how you want a guard dog to behave. The same is true for us humans and our internal guard dogs. We don’t want to get angry at the wrong times nor calm when it behooves us to be angry. When spiritual traditions advocate non-anger, they’re focused on static anger. But there is a place for anger, even in spirituality.

One more point: Until we’re all enlightened, omniscient beings, we have no idea what other people’s boundaries are. Anger, along with communication, are how we communicate that. Anger provides important information and that means for us spiritual people too.

I dream of a world where we recognize the value of anger. A world where we work on training anger so it doesn’t control us. A world where we understand anger has a rightful place and can in fact, even be something good.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Friday was my last day of work for my highest-paying freelance client. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried for multiple reasons. One, it’s an ending and it makes sense to cry when there’s a loss or a perceived loss. Two, I was hoping I’d have something else lined up by this point and I do not. So not only am I sad, I’m also scared because I’m confronting uncertainty. Yes, I have other clients, and yes, I have savings, but still. The bulk of my income came from this client and now the steady work I’ve had from them for nearly a year is gone.

The universe is always talking to me so you know what happened as soon as I turned in my last invoice? A dove flew to my living room window and then perched on the railing outside my apartment. We stared at one another for close to a full minute before the dove took off. That dove and I had a moment.

I looked up what doves mean and one website said, “What you see right now is your reality shifting in ways you never thought possible and that what you are indeed looking for is just around the corner. In this case, dove meaning shows that most chaos happens just before your dreams come true.”

A close approximation of the dove I saw. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Well if that isn’t the most perfect message to receive right now, I don’t know what is. I’m certainly in the middle of chaos. The book Animal Speak says the message from dove is to mourn what has passed, but awaken to the promise of the future. I want to cry hearing that because I don’t know what my promised future is. I don’t have a freaking clue over here. All I have are a bunch of question marks.

When I become silent and still, what bubbles up is a prayer I like from Tosha Silver. In It’s Not Your Money, she writes:

“Divine Beloved, help me trust that there is a plan far beyond what I can see through my veil of fears and illusions. May I move in harmony with Your flow, knowing in every moment all needs will be met and You alone guide me. Fill me with Your nourishing and extravagant love. I am Yours, You are mine, we are One. All if well.”

The part that jumps out at me is recognizing there’s a plan beyond what I can see through my veil of fears and illusions. I may not know what’s next for me but I’m not a ship lost at sea. There is a plan and direction for my life. What it comes back to is surrender. Surrendering to what is, surrendering to a power greater than myself, surrendering to what the Divine Beloved wants for me. Throughout my life it’s become clear I don’t know what’s best for me. I thought being an editor at a magazine living in the suburbs somewhere would be a great idea. But the reality is, I’m a much better writer than I am an editor. I don’t want to edit other people’s work or shepherd their articles. I want to write my own. Or ghostwrite. And I never would have moved in that direction if it wasn’t for the push I received from the universe.

Over and over again I remind myself I’m an instrument for the Divine Beloved. I’m here to be of service and that means pushing aside my idea of how things should go. It means loosening self-will over and over again and instead being open to something else. I don’t know what that “something else” is, but if the dove is any indication, the universe will show me.

I dream of a world where we remember we aren’t alone. A world where we understand there is a force guiding us, helping us, providing for us. A world where we loosen our grip on self-will and open ourselves up to what’s in store for us, which could be something greater than we ever imagined.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Right now, Jews all over the world (myself included) are celebrating Passover. If you don’t know what Passover is or would like a refresher, it’s the story of Moses, the burning bush, and the 10 commandments. What continues to be most relevant in my opinion is how Moses commanded the Egyptian Pharaoh of the time to let the enslaved Jews go free, and the Pharaoh refused. As retribution, God delivered 10 plagues. (If you want to read the whole story, you can do so here.) If I had to summarize the story of Passover, it’s about escaping plagues and seeking freedom.

In Hebrew, the word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which also means narrow spaces. Last year as we were in the early stages of COVID-19 and quarantine, Passover was especially symbolic. I think we all felt in an embodied way what it means to be in a narrow space either physically or emotionally.

This year society is in a different place and as such the holiday is resonating in a different way for me. Collectively, we’re still in the tight, narrow space, the metaphorical Egypt, but there’s also light at the end of the tunnel. We’re almost out of that place. And that’s what this holiday reminds us – that deep, dark, painful things happen to us in life, sometimes personally and sometimes collectively, but also there’s relief when those things are no longer there. That relief is what’s snagging my attention. Vaccines are rolling out and in my own state, everyone older than 16 will be eligible for vaccination by April 15th. I know there’s still time before it’s safe to breathe the same air as strangers without a mask, but still. We’re about to experience liberation and freedom in a way we have not since COVID-19 hit.

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Free like this! Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

To bring it back to Passover, I find it telling that when I said to a friend we should sing a melancholy song at our Zoom shabbat gathering, he said Passover isn’t a sad holiday. It’s joyous, it’s about celebrating freedom.

His comment struck me because so often I focus on the melancholy, the struggle, and not the joy. I know it’s premature to celebrate just yet because the pandemic is still affecting our lives – some more than others – but this holiday celebrates hope and courage without omitting the pain.

A quote that I think fits in nicely with the theme of Passover comes from Saint Bartholomew who said, “Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond the pain.”

Who are we beyond the pain of our personal and collective Mitzrayim? Who are we on the other side of transformation? Who will we be when we reach the metaphorical promised land? How will we operate? How will the world operate? I’m curious to find out. Passover reminds me of all this – pain and pleasure. But mostly, it reminds me how sweet it is to be free.

I dream of a world where we take heart from our ancestors. A world where we remember their lives – Jewish or not – were filled with not only suffering, but overcoming suffering. A world where we recognize we don’t have to run from pain because we’ve already experienced it countless times. A world where we feel all we are beyond the pain and remember how joyful freedom can be.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

I keep thinking about the murders in Atlanta and what I can personally do other than what I’ve already done, which is to donate and speak out. What came to mind is writing on worldview. How you view the world is how you act in the world. If other people are less than, inferior, objects that exist solely for your pleasure, then it’s not hard to murder them or hurt them in some other way. The reverse is also true: If other people are equal to you, fellow human beings that have the same needs that you do, you’ll treat them with respect. Furthermore, the reality is we all need each other, we all have something special to give.

This concept is illustrated so beautifully in Gary Ferguson’s book The Eight Master Lessons of Nature. He writes about how each wildflower has its own strength that contributes to the whole. Some wildflowers have deeper roots that help them survive during drought periods and others have waxy leaves that allow them to contain moisture.

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Variety is the spice of life for nature too! Photo by Gaston Roulstone on Unsplash

Every flower has a different survival strategy and together they keep the ecosystem flourishing. If all the flowers on a steep mountain slope perish, the soil would erode, the butterflies would flee, the elk would wander away, and the area would become a dead zone. Living among diversity is what keeps the area healthy. In other words, homogeneity spells death. That’s true not only for plants, but for humans too.

My spiritual teacher says:

“You should remember that human life is not like a single flower; it is like a bouquet or a garden of flowers blooming with many varieties of flowers. And this variety of blossoms adds to the collective beauty of the garden. Had there been only magnolia graniflora or one variety of rose only blooming in the garden, although that single flower might be very attractive, still the garden as a whole would not be very lovely. A garden is all the more beautiful because of the flowers of various types and hues.

“Similarly, we human beings must also move forward while maintaining a harmonious adjustment among all the diverse aspects of individual and collective life. We must discover unity in the midst of colorful diversity. Not only will we realize this in the future, we are realizing it even today, and thus we have been able to consolidate even our limited power. And you know that even a little power, if consolidated, becomes stronger than even a mighty force.”

We are stronger together and we are stronger diversified. There’s room not only for one kind of person, but for all people. And instead of trying to assert dominance of one group or another, let’s reminder that all of us together are what keep this planet and our society alive.

I dream of a world where we treasure the contributions that we each make. A world where we value diversity. A world where we understand we are stronger because of it. A world where we remember what the wildflowers teach us.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Last week I wrote about the perspective Bhutan has taken in this pandemic that everyone is a part of one big family and how that’s played out in terms of the country’s policies. Here in the U.S., the more prevalent perspective is one of rugged individualism and separateness. Instead of viewing all of us as being in this together, we operate from a materialist worldview that says only matter is real and humans are alienated from not only each other, but everything.

From this perspective, consciousness is a “strange aberration that happens as an accidental byproduct of chemical interactions,” to quote my friend Amal Jacobson. The materialist worldview says the cosmos doesn’t have any consciousness and thus it becomes much easier to objectify, well, everything. Nature doesn’t have any value beyond its utilitarian value. A tree is worth more dead than it is alive. Furthermore, nature becomes something “out there” that we go to. We see this in the way we, me included, talk about nature. “I was out in nature in this weekend” is a common phrase we all say.

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We are this and this is us. Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

However, “out in nature” implies we’re separate from nature, that somehow we’re not included in this vast universe. The phrase also implies that we could ever get away from nature. That’s not possible even in the densest of cities because the very ground we stand on is nature, and furthermore, we are natural too.

Rebecca Solnit speaks to this in a Sierra magazine article when she writes, “It took the pervasiveness of radioactive fallout in the 1950s and pesticides in the 1960s to wake conservationists up to the fact that nothing is separate, and you can’t truly protect a place by setting it apart.”

You can’t protect a place by setting it apart because it’s impossible to truly be apart. That’s why there’s so much emphasis on intersectionality these days. We all intersect in various ways. Environmental justice goes hand in hand with social justice, for instance, because who typically pays the price for environmental destruction? Black, brown, and indigenous people. This cosmos is a spider web and if you pull on one thread, it vibrates the rest of them.

I have a friend who acknowledges this every morning in his prayers. He says, “I am eternally grateful to be an integrated particle in the infinite universe of your wisdom and will, and to live in your abundance and prosperity receiving your guidance, strength, mercy, and protection.” Gorgeous, right? I like the whole prayer, but in particular, I can’t help but wonder what would the world be like if we all felt this way? That we are an integrated particle that is only one part of a whole? The reality is materialism is a belief system just like what I’m proposing is also a belief system. Which one leads to a happier, healthier society? I think the answer is already obvious.

I dream of a world where we recognize no one is separate from one another. A world where we realize a thread of connection links not only human beings, but all beings. A world where we change our worldview and recognize we are an integrated particle of this vast universe and behave accordingly.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

This weekend I had a small taste of what other people have been experiencing for the past year with this pandemic. Serenity, a cat I love and the closest I’ve come to a pet since I moved out of my parents’ house, died. Under normal circumstances, I would have been able to say goodbye to her in person but because of the pandemic, I said goodbye over Facetime.

I’m grateful I had the opportunity to say goodbye at all, but I would have much rather been able to pet her one last time. There are numerous crappy things about this pandemic but the worst, emotionally speaking, is the feeling of being alone. We already know this because we’ve experienced it ourselves, and I’m sure you’ve seen the news articles about the increase in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety during this pandemic. Grief is also something meant to be shared, and ideally in person. Online memorials and the like are better than nothing, but they’re not the same as in-person events.

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Serenity Blue lounging in her cat tree. Photo by Frances Schaeffer

I keep thinking about an article I read in the Atlantic nearly a month ago detailing Bhutan’s experience during this pandemic. It has me wondering, what would life be like in the U.S. if we followed Bhutan’s example? Would I have been able to say goodbye to Serenity in person?

As of late February, Bhutan only had one death from COVID-19. Not one death that day or week, one death period. Madeline Drexler writes nations like Bhutan, because there are others with low death rates, “offer plenty of lessons, from the importance of attentive leadership, the need to ensure that people have enough provisions and financial means to follow public-health guidance, and the shared understanding that individuals and communities must sacrifice to protect the well-being of all: elements that have been sorely lacking in the U.S.”

However, what struck me the most about the article is that the country made it possible for people to follow public-health guidance by providing economic and social support to those who need to quarantine or isolate. And furthermore, the king of Bhutan explicitly told government leaders that “even one death from COVID-19 would be too much for a small nation that regards itself as a family,” Drexler wrote.

Look, I know Bhutan is smaller than the U.S., that the politics are different, etc., but what would it feel like to have a sense we’re all in this together instead of every person being out for themselves? If the government just says “stay at home” but doesn’t offer support for doing so, we wind up with a situation like we currently have.

What would it be like if we all adopted Bhutan’s worldview that we’re one big family? That it was our responsibility to care for and protect our family members? How would we behave differently? I suspect it would be a much more enjoyable experience for us all.

I dream of a world where we care about ourselves and each other. A world where we recognize our actions have consequences even if they’re not readily apparent. A world where we remember we’re not alone even if it feels that way sometimes. A world where we embrace the idea we are one big family.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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