So, I go back and forth between extreme states of being concerned and feeling blessed. Concerned for people – out of work, struggling with finances, worried about their families, caring for their parents, dealing with health issues. And then, blessed – blessed I can work from home, am in good health, have family and friends for support.

As much as I feel discombobulated bouncing between these two states, I’ve come to accept the fact they are healthy responses to our pandemic. Sometimes the best we can do is have empathy and be grateful. Kids remind me to have empathy. Age reminds me to be grateful.

Right before spring break, several kindergarten classes in our school were learning about communities. One teacher asked me to visit her classroom. For the culminating project, her students made different buildings out of boxes and designed their own class community. The students voted to name it “Homeless Homes Community”. Since they all had homes, her students wanted their community to be for people who were homeless. Apparently, they saw a need and responded. That’s concern for others. That’s empathy.

When not obsessing over concern for others, I feel incredibly grateful. It’s funny how situations like this health crisis can help us see the things we take for granted on a day-to-day basis – little things – like toilet paper. The older I get, the more my perspective shifts. I don’t just see my cup as half full. My cup is overflowing. I also know everyone reading this post can relate – to some degree.

It is easy to let fear overtake us in times of crisis if we don’t carefully choose our focus and behaviors. Obsessing over the news or a Facebook stream feeds reactions of fear. I think a better response is to stay informed, but choose to focus on the things for which we are grateful. Empathy and gratefulness – for me it’s the right balance given the challenges we currently face.

 

Thanks to Mrs. Heinze’s class for the beautiful reminder about empathy and concern for others.