by Arturo Espinoza
In writing this piece, I know that the effects of what seems to be an ongoing shutdown have affected many people in adverse ways. However, when one considers those individuals who are currently in nursing homes and those who are blind or who have other physical and mental challenges to deal with, there is the added stressor of often having to depend on others for various kinds of help, whether it’s about taking care of certain household tasks, going to the grocery store or getting to one’s medical appointments. And then there are those people who don’t even have close family or friends that they can count on.
Not since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, during which millions died, have the people of this country (and many others worldwide) been forced to live in relative isolation due to the current lockdown. And while many states have opened many businesses, California is still one of those states in which countless small businesses have been ruined or have had to remain closed. In fact, even as I write these words, those color-coded “tier phases” that are allowing gyms, hair salons and restaurants to open seem to be spotty at best! But where do qualities like flexibility, initiative and collaboration fit, especially for those citizens who are blind or physically limited and shut in during these frightening, perplexing and uncertain times?
First, I don’t think it’s far-fetched for me to argue that qualities like flexibility, initiative and collaboration are three vital components which connect our attitudes and ultimately, our state of health and well-being. With this idea in mind, one can then presume that it is not unrealistic to view choice as being the linchpin that indisputably binds these qualities together. But in what way, one might ask? I think that if we are honest with ourselves, it’s not unreasonable or unrealistic to presume that most people have free will to decide many things.
For instance, most of us can choose to be ruled by fear and other negative emotions or not, live where we want, pursue careers, marry or stay single, wear what we want, worship, work or not, eat food that we like and so on. So when viewed in this light, flexibility is necessary because without being flexible, we would be incapable of making decisions that otherwise bring change and growth to our lives. In turn, without initiative, it would be impossible to take whatever steps we might need to take in order to change or leave less than satisfying situations. And without collaboration, we as individuals, communities and society would be unable to work together to achieve any goals or objectives in a constructive and meaningful manner.
Thus, with these points in mind, I would encourage those of you who are feeling like prisoners of the current lockdown to be as flexible as possible, so that whatever unexpected changes come along may be handled with some semblance of tranquility and acceptance. I would also urge you to take the initiative and instead of being ruled by fear and fake news, to exercise common sense; step outside for some sun and fresh air so that your immune system has a chance to do what it was meant to do: naturally give you some vitamin D2 and D3 as well as fighting off the effects of this insidious virus.
Make a concerted effort to reach out to loved ones, care providers, friends, support groups and/or any religious groups so that vital human connections can be maintained. And if available, do your best to network with other people by phone, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or even by regular mail to find out if there are any members of your community who might have interests or projects that you can collaborate on. These may be the best of times in which to recognize that after all is said and done, we are not islands unto ourselves but rather, the members of one race — the human race.