I’ve been doing a lot of yard work recently. Over time, our yard has changed – trees and shrubs have grown closer to maturity so we have shade where there used to be sun, and sun where the shade has receded as other plants have died. Jasmine died and critters took new routes, as hers grew over. Then we got Charlie, and he’s wearing in new traffic patterns.
All of these changes have forced us to alter parts of the yard and have slowly rearranged the landscape. Living in an urban environment however, poses some challenges in this regard. I don’t have large designated veggie garden, so I’ve been busy trying to find the right place to plant my tomatoes and peppers, moving the peas and broccoli to new spots this year, and preparing new areas for fall while figuring out what needs transplanted (and where!).
All of this garden rearranging got me thinking about the changes in our life’s microclimate. Right now there seems to be a lot happening in our lives, and the lives of those close to us. We all go through various seasons in life, and it’s perfectly normal, but, even if they are good changes, they aren’t necessarily
easy to adapt to, and when they are negative changes, they can be especially difficult.
There are so many in our circle who are experiencing health issues and all that they encompass; the uncertainty of what to do next, the financial burdens and obligations, mortality, adjusting to a new “normal”, and everything else that comes with a new diagnosis or the expected progression of a disease.
The grief that some are experiencing is gut wrenching. Everyone experiences the circumstances surrounding grief differently; even when siblings lose a parent, the siblings will likely react differently because they each had a unique relationship with the parent. So even when we can’t relate to the specific situation, we can all relate to the pain and feelings involved when someone is grieving.
Addiction is touching the lives of more people everyday. People we know. Friends of friends. It could be alcohol; it could be pain medications; it could be illegal drugs. But addiction is more common than most want to believe; and it’s not just the life of the addict that is affected.
All these scenarios, and so many others, make for a gloomy outlook – and leave us wondering what to say or do in response. What do you say to the couple who lost a 3 week old infant? To the person trying to come to terms with addiction? To the person waiting for test results? How do you help the ailing neighbor dealing with age related issues? Or the person trying to live day to day with mental illness?
Let’s face it, life is hard. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. There are a lot of ways in which we can become overwhelmed with sadness, fear, dread, grey thoughts, feelings of uselessness, loneliness, and anger. No one is immune to tragedy, not even those annoyingly always upbeat and cheerful people. You can’t will away unfortunate events. Bad things can happen to good and happy people, good things can happen to grumpy or mean people too.
There’s a lot of unpleasantness going around. How do we combat that? How do we, as a society, rise above it and create a world that helps those who struggle rather than a world that continues to pound them down? How do we keep going and keep living?
Some people rely on faith to keep them going. That’s beautiful, and great for them. But what if faith isn’t something you lean on in times of difficulty? How do we comfort or care for those whose faith is different than ours without pushing them away by proselytizing at an inopportune time?
Be kind and just keep living. That’s it. Just because someone doesn’t believe as you do, doesn’t mean you can’t comfort, care for, or be by their side during a trying situation.
Being kind isn’t hard, or at least it shouldn’t be. And kindness has this weird way of rippling outward like when a pebble is dropped in a pond.
Smile at that giggling kid. Be kind to your casier. Be thankful for the little things. Walk your dog. Watch the birds. Sit on your porch. Talk to your neighbors. Be there for your friends. Actively listen when people tell you what they’re experiencing. Make dinner, or order take-away, for someone you think might need it. Send a card – yes, through the post, e-mail doesn’t count. Leave your extra garden produce on the neighbor’s stoop. Turn off your cell phone, or don’t answer it, when talking to someone – including cashiers, waitstaff, and receptionists.
Sure, we don’t feel like being kind all the time. I mean, it can be exhausting. But if we all do our best to be kind when we are able, it’ll make it that much easier for all of us to just keep living.