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Taking note: What we carry

It’s another cold, gray, blustery day in early spring. The winds howl, the streets are empty, the dawn seems to barely arrive.

But I find myself grateful, despite everything.

Grateful for the diminishing snow, grateful that my loved ones remain in good health, grateful for all who try their best to make the world a little brighter, grateful for what still remains.

However, it’s not always easy to be grateful right now.

I know it feels like we’ve lost a lot now. I know it feels like there’s a lot we can still lose.

But there’s still so much left. And we need to try to be grateful for what we do still have each day. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but there’s still so much we can appreciate in the world.

There’s still so much we can do for ourselves and each other right now.

But I know it’s easy to forget that.

We’re all carrying heavy, unique, untold burdens right now.

We might feel ourselves getting wrapped up in our own fears, struggling to shoulder the weight of our own troubles, losing our patience with others, falling into bad old habits.

However, we should try to set our own burdens down and focus on helping others when we can.

We should try to take a little piece of what others carry and let our own troubles fall away, even if just for a moment.

When we do this, we help others and ourselves by taking a break from fixating on our own woes.

And although social distancing guidelines mean helping others sometimes requires a little more creativity and ingenuity than usual, there are a few very simple things we can do to help each other through this difficult time.

≤ Take the time to truly listen to others. This sounds so simple, but it’s so important. Offering a listening ear is always a helpful thing to do, but these days, it’s needed more than ever. Many people are dealing with some level of isolation and/or anxiety right now. Whether someone’s telling you something heavy or lighthearted, whether they’re a close friend, a family member, a colleague, a neighbor or a complete stranger, try to lend a listening ear whenever you can.

You don’t have to give advice or solve a person’s problem — that’s not required — just listen, just be there, just let the person know they’ve been heard. It can make all the difference to the speaker and the listener.

≤ Say “thank you.” Again, this is simple and obvious, but so critical right now. This situation has made almost everything feel like a new challenge in some way. Things that were once simple have become complicated. Recognize that when you interact with people and need their assistance in some way. Thank people for their help and their efforts, large and small. Thank the workers who are providing essential services each and every day. Thank the people who live with you if they’ve made your home a comforting refuge during a crisis. Thank your coworkers for putting on a brave face and still finding things to laugh and smile about. Thank your family and friends for staying in touch through phone calls, video chats and messages. Thank the people who make you laugh when you feel like crying. Thank the people who are still finding ways to experience and spread joy.

We are all in this together and we all contribute. So please, let’s make sure to appreciate each other. We all deserve some kind words and thanks right now.

≤ Go out of your way to make someone smile. Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed or cranky, deliberately do something to make another person smile. It can be as simple as sharing some humor or a fond memory you have with them. Even if you can’t physically see them smile, you’ll feel it. And you’ll find yourself smiling too.

So please, remember, there are so many small things we can do to help each other right now. And those small things, those little kindnesses, all add up.

When the people around us demonstrate that we’re heard, appreciated and cared for, our burdens become lighter.

And when we have less to carry ourselves, we’re able to carry more for others when they need us.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is city editor at The Mining Journal. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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