“Over the course of recent weeks, I have found great comfort in the words of so many people, some whom I’ve not even met, and a common vision to grow our commitment to serve those who seek out our help in these unprecedented times of need.
I believe that our mindset, and the state of our brain health, depend on shifting our conversations away from the things that incite fear and anxiety to providing more opportunities to learn and seek out ways to be encouraged, supported and inspired. Focusing on even moments of positivity and a common goal truly can turn off the cycle of fear that is potentially just as toxic and impactful to our health as any other negative element in our environment.
Today, I read again (for the umpteenth time) When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron. If you haven’t yet discovered this gem, it’s essentially a guide for finding our way through the storm and “How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart.” Coincidence or prophecy as the book was written in 2016, Chodron so eloquently examines how we can overcome heartache even in the face of loss that so many are experiencing and ultimately find joy again. "What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear, looking it right in the eye—not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking."
We are indeed confronted now by a global crisis that is also exceptionally personal on a vast scale. None of us can, as in many other instances before, read about something happening in a distant land and not immediately relate to how others are also feeling.
So with this knowledge, can we use that community of understanding and that connective thread to move forward and find even a dot of light at the end of the tunnel? I believe we can. We are, whether we know it or not, navigating uncharted waters together. We are drawing upon strengths that we may not have even realized we had to find a way to live in this moment. But what we must do is look past today and see the path before us to visualize the hope and the possibilities that lie ahead.
I believe too that we need one another more than ever, even if we are apart on some level, whether physically distanced or in our beliefs. But the health of our minds depends on forging the bonds of friendship that we can strengthen and expand long after this storm has passed. Let’s use the energy we may be expending on fear or anxiety and apply it to seeking knowledge, embracing our ability to be brilliant thinkers, problem-solvers, knowledge-sharers and more compassionate beings that refuse to yield to the adversity of fear.
By no means is this easy. As Chodron said, “Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don't know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don't know." And with enormous clarity and the omniscience that defines her work, “Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what's out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it."
We can if we try come out of this more beautiful than before. I wish you peace, healing and continued learning for our mutual wellbeing.”
Dr. Suzy Gazda
• San Antonio