The Alchemy of Hope: What You Can Contribute To The Greater Good During A Pandemic
As we move through our third winter of a pandemic world, it is clear we are living in unprecedented times. We are navigating a continuously changing landscape in which the ways we live, work, study, socialize and care for ourselves and others have morphed, and morphed again. The only certainty is uncertainty.
Our daily vocabulary now includes masks, gloves, social distancing, COVID-19, antigen and PCR testing, and an introduction to the Greek alphabet through mutant variants: alpha, beta, gamma, delta and omicron. Peppering the daily news are reports of percent positivity rates, number of new daily cases and hospitalizations, as well as, sadly, deaths.
It is no secret that this pandemic world has taken a toll on our mental, emotional and spiritual health, whether we are young, old or in-between. Navigating a global public health crisis is scary to begin with. When a pandemic becomes politicized and people’s beliefs and behaviors become polarized, the crisis escalates and we feel invisible and powerless.
While having our minds firmly grounded in the current reality is critical for self-care and survival, the spirit needs a seed of vision and hope that the future will be better than things are right now. How can we find empowerment in a pandemic world, where so much seems out of our control?
Finding a creative spark that can germinate into a seed of vision for better times can transform both our inner lives and our outer world. This vision seed fuels hope, which allows us to not only go on day by day, but also channel our energy and creative power to make a difference for the future. Hope is a creative crucible. It opens the heart and taps into the creative energy that comes with getting clear about what really matters. Clarity gives direction for both our mind’s focus and actions that follow. Hope catalyzes an alchemical reaction within us, and when shared in our circles of family, friends and colleagues, allows us to transform our current experience into something much better.
What Are Ways You Can Contribute To The Greater Good During A Pandemic?
- Take a positive step to set off a ripple of good in the larger community. COVID-19 has showed us we really ARE interconnected. Let’s use this reality to know that every positive step we take does make a difference in not only our own lives but also the lives of loved ones and our greater world community.
- Be a good example. As people tire of pandemic living, and want to throw caution to the wind, it is reinforcing to see others do the right thing. Wear a mask. Social distance. Make safe choices about activities in our COVID-19 world. Do whatever you can to stay safe, and should you show symptoms, get tested, quarantine and do your best to protect others.
- Cultivate creative outlets. They help us process our experience and can also touch others. Music and songwriting during this pandemic time has been powerful for me. Journaling, story writing, cooking, gardening, painting, drawing and taking photographs are personal outlets. Finding new ways for people to gather and connect safely can help stave off a sense of isolation. Family dinners on Zoom, attending or performing in virtual concerts or open mics, and meeting outside at a state park instead of inside in a living room allow us to still enjoy pandemic-safe social contact.
- Shine the light of kindness. In our current world, materialism has eclipsed kindness to our detriment. We need to find a way to restore a better balance. Kindness is fertilizer for the heart and soul. Kindness lightens our personal burdens and touches others in our local and global communities.
- Step away from political polarization and focus on what is at the heart of the issues that affect us all. It seems that both the left and the right have become further apart on most any issue that might serve us best from a middle ground. Even public health issues in a pandemic have become politically polarized. Risk mitigation practices, like wearing a mask or getting vaccinated have morphed into threats to individual freedom and Democrats versus Republicans. Trying to get facts and making choices accordingly is better for all than engaging in political warfare.
- Consciously choose projects that will help others in your community. Some projects need financial resources or goods. Others need time. Contribute food or money to a food pantry. Offer graphic design, office or IT skills to an arts non-profit. Ask what kind of help is needed at the YMCA, your local hospital, or a children’s program.
- Appreciate the contributions our four-legged companions are making to our well-being. Cats and dogs, and other animals are supporting emotional, mental and spiritual health during this pandemic time. Donate pet food, blankets and toys to an animal shelter. See if they need help doing laundry, cleaning cages, sorting through supplies or any other task. Veterinary clinics are overwhelmed with care needs as more people adopt pets. See if you can offer any kind of help as a volunteer.
- Help those around you tap into the alchemy of hope. Invite loved ones to talk about a vision of how we can work together to transform our world for the better in the face of issues that are most pressing. Vision tends to spark more vision. Let conversations move into plans for action.
- Look for and share images and inspiring stories of people making a difference, helping others and overcoming the odds. Images and stories are powerful and fuel the alchemy of hope.
- Lean into your ability to live with uncertainty. We often back off from what is scary and go into our turtle shells. Take one day at a time. Find ways to be grounded, like meditating, journaling, taking a walk or doing yoga, even when there is chaos. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths when you start to feel frightened. Feel the chair under your tailbone and the floor beneath your feet.
In reality, we are always living with uncertainty. When life seemed more stable, pre-pandemic, uncertainty was just not as apparent every day. Life is an evolutionary process. Things grow and change every day. Mutant virus variants do; so do we. Uncertainty can grow good things as well as bad. If we can work to focus our minds and hearts on what is needed and how to make things better at any point in time, we have the power, individually and collectively, to tap into the alchemy of hope.
Linda Marks is a singer-songwriter and recording artist, and a heart-centered body psychotherapist in Waltham, MA. Listen to her two 2021 pandemic-inspired albums “Monuments Of Love” and “Home” on all digital platforms, and watch her inspirational lyric videos on YouTube. You can reach Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.healingheartpower.com.