“There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates. Doubt is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts – a sword that kills.” -Buddha
Bernice finds the ups and downs of the past year weighing on her heart. She has managed to stay healthy and sane during the pandemic, yet something inexplicable tugs. She feels empty going through the motions. Fears of exposure to illness along with sharing her opinions about current events, compromise her ability to freely plan vacations and to express herself.
Surrounded by a close circle of friends and a few distant relatives, Bernice stays in contact with people she’s known for years. They call and complain about their latest aches and pains and losses. Once in a while one of her beloveds talks about a success or a cure that temporarily brings happiness to Bernice’s heart. Why can’t she hang on to happiness for at least an hour?
The quarantine eroded Bernice’s appreciation for life’s natural rhythm. Time, work and responsibilities are now a burden. She quickly enters and exits the grocery store. Weekly lunch outings with friends have turned into only occasional park picnics. Instead of going to the gym or sharing coffee with fitness buddies, Bernice walks outside alone with worries and stress as companions.
Bernice has resisted the use of technology to interact with the world. Weekend services at Bernice’s place of worship have moved from in-person to online. Her spiritual community organizes meetings to encourage socializing and group reflection. Members lament that these computer gatherings lack the same impact as in-person events. Worshipers are frustrated that the pandemic has taken away their ability to keep their faith.
Bernice’s primary hobby is loving to be with and help others. She loves to organize potlucks, coffee hour and holiday parties. COVID-19 has brought her passion to a halt. She is left with a few ideas but no plans. This year Bernice celebrates her birthday alone at home. Although she receives a pile of beautiful cards and virtual good wishes, she misses sharing the cake, food and laughter.
Reluctant to celebrate her birthday in misery, Bernice contemplates how to reclaim her life from Coronavirus. She asks herself:
- Are boredom and apathy my new normal?
- Am I ready/do I know how to create lasting change?
Birthday Wish: Love Myself and Others
“In the end, only three things matter: How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” – Buddha
Bernice spends time to come up with honest answers.
“I choose to define my life in new ways. Anxiety occured because I fell into the trap of worry and stress over something I can’t control. The pandemic can’t take away my love for people. Love is bigger than the pandemic. I refuse to block my deep desire for Peace, Love and Joy. It’s time to find new ways to help myself and the world.”
Bernice’s Birthday Blueprint
Teach this truth: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion which renew humanity.
For Bernice, birthdays are a time for blessings, celebrating, playing, sharing and creating memories. She adopts these ideas:
- Celebrate life. It’s now four years since the passing of Bernice’s precious dog Cutie Pie. She is ready to adopt a sweet pup and calls the local animal shelter.
- Play outside. Bernice calls her gym buddies and they set up outdoor morning walks in different parks. One person brings coffee. Another brings bagels. They practice distancing.
- Count blessings. Bernice and her minister talk about a birthday outreach plan for homebound congregants. Group members drop off cards, blessings, foods and gifts at the minister’s office. Bernice puts everything in a box and delivers the box to a member’s doorstep.
- Share and create memories. For years Bernice has wanted to make photo gifts to her family. She learns how to use an online photo book website to make books, ornaments and other mementos for her family to treasure for years to come.
Bernice’s Birthday Payoff
Without old pressures and worries about the past, Bernice finds reasons to be grateful and to recognize the beauty of service during tough times. She is writing a new chapter of her life which touches her heart and builds community. By taking a stand for love Bernice keeps love alive.