Love in the Time of Covid-19
“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” -Nelson Mandala
It’s been a while since I posted a journal entry. But, like many of you also sheltering in place, I’ve had a little more time on my hands. Maybe as a way of remaining calm, I’ve been trying hard to take things a day at a time lately. It’s hard to practice this in uncertain and scary times, but it’s one small way to remain a little more tranquil.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the vineyard, even more than usual, because it helps me stay present. My feelings towards our vines are even more poignant lately. This has effected how I’ve been enjoying wine. Typically, there’s always a part of me that’s tasting a wine to learn; learn how to be a better farmer, a more intuitive winemaker. Lately, though, I’m just enjoying it. I’m allowing it to simply lift my spirits and make me smile. Even as all of us struggle to navigate jobs, businesses, finances, I’m feeling more connected to my livelihood than I have in a long time. Some aspects of these strange times remind me of when I first entered the wine business. Back then I was concerned and nervous for other reasons; wanting to do right by my dad, my boss; anxious to learn how to make a wine good enough for people to enjoy and maybe even want to cellar; eager to learn how to be a legitimate farmer and not just talk the talk. These now strike me as a younger man’s concerns.
Today, my concerns turn outwards. They range from how my kids will adjust to this sheltering in place as the days wear on, as they’re already feeling isolated from their friends and they miss their routines. My 15 year old daughter begging, I mean begging me with tears to visit with some of her friends. They’re also older now and more attuned to my anxieties than when they were little. My job now is to remain calm and positive for my family and employees, even as we all struggle individually and collectively.
The news cycle bears down on us twenty four hours a day, adding to a culture of fear. At the top of every news hour Death and Economics lead the charge. While I am acutely aware that these are dire times, I am also aware that our species, a beautiful one at that, is much more expansive than the media might suggest. Money is only one of the currencies available to our species. And, yet, we make it king. So, when the threat of an economic destabilization looms, we buckle; the ground beneath us moves. How will we survive without material things? Without shelter, without food?
Two currencies available to us in abundance are love and empathy. When we trade in love and empathy, a quiet healing takes place. All around the world, there are people trading in these currencies, and from these exchanges come assistance, in the form of comfort, understanding, food, shelter, care, kindness.
What can each of us do to turn outward? A nurse enters a grocery store after working a grueling 24-hour shift only to find the grocery stores shelves bare. Service industry workers, and so many others, who were living paycheck to paycheck, struggle to afford even the most menial bills. While so many of us enjoy binge watching shows and movies at home, many cannot even afford basic cable and streaming services. The libraries are closed. They have little entertainment or solace available to them. Many of these people live solitary lives and have no one at home to help ease their mind.
There is so much we can do with our reserves of love and empathy. It is often said that what separates us from our fellow species is our ability to empathize. What a time to demonstrate this. And, so perhaps if we take less when we’re shopping and leave a little behind for the next person, we can trade in that currency. For those of us still traveling to work—I have been in our vineyard and driving to the winery on a nearly daily basis—there are opportunities all around us. A few minutes is all it takes. The next time you’re at the store, post office or other essential business, make eye contact with one another and smile (while practicing social distancing). So many of us are somber while we shop, not looking at others, as if even a look might transfer the virus. Instead, I’m trying to lift my head, smile, or lift my hand in greeting. There are still ample opportunities for us to connect with our fellow species. Spread love. It’s easy. It doesn’t cost anything. “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”
Fear of the other can bankrupt our reserves of empathy and love. Wouldn’t it be great if one of the one positive outcomes of this time would be renewed sense of these currencies? They are fun to trade in and one can be imaginative in doing so. Let’s maybe at least try.
I’ve put together a little playlist (click here) for you that I’ve been listening to. I hope you enjoy it. Of course, those of you who know me know I couldn’t possibly make a play list without including The Grateful Dead. “Here Comes Sunshine” is dedicated to you, my friends. Let’s pretend that life right now is a virtual Grateful Dead show where helping others with food, water or just a hand is commonplace. And, if you need help, don’t fear asking a stranger. Let’s all stay safe, practice social distancing, and the other guidelines set forth. But, let’s not stop loving each other. There’s no virus that can kill love, kindness and empathy.