being well Area

  how we’re weathering the war on virality
gary e. davis
April 5, 2020
We are to “shelter in place” as private homesteaders and ensure “social distance” in public. The barage of bad news is overwhelming.

The past couple of weeks, I saved the URL of every article on coping well that I came across. Then, I grouped them into thematic foci—15 topics. Coincidently, NYTimes columnist David Brooks solicited response to a couple of questions about how readers are facing “mental health in the age of coronavirus.” So I responded by merging my 15 topics into a paragraph.

David: In what ways are the coronavirus and isolation affecting you psychologically?

Gary: I feel very resilient and focused on articles about positive coping. I have a large archive of those now, and I’ve organized them into 15 constructive topics. [not said in response: I felt a little senendipitous by confessing that: performing a little allegory of what’s upcoming.]

David: What are you doing to stay mentally well? And what wisdom would you share with other Times readers who are having trouble coping?

Gary: [not said in response: I thought you’d never ask. Wisdom! Got it:] Such reading and compilation is fun! It’s constructive, and it will serve future writing projects:

Address stress realistically. Know what is truly essential for living decently. Let optimism play happily. Let your Inner Child be reborn through enjoying solitude; let eerie emptiness of the streets and time be part of peacefulness. Turn to literary examples of living well. Find fortitude in creativity. Enhance friendship through screen time. Feel thankfulness. Actively care. Find empathy across cultural differences. Donate time (and money). Know that there is good reason for hope and trust toward our American systems. And, finally, let all of this be part of durable renewal. [end of wisdom]

But the list changed a little overnight. I’ll say a little about each of the 11 themes below.

But first, a recognition of being “on the front lines”:

going to pandemic war
    Dr. Anthony Fauci, an indispensible voice in the Trump administration’s responses to the covid-19 pandemic, speaks truth to power, which has brought death threats, causing his security to be upgraded. Last Friday, in a long interview, he was asked if the job caused him to worry: “This is the life that I’ve chosen, and I accept it. It is what it is. The thing that I don’t like is the effect it has on my family.”

Health care professionals are dying in commitment to facing insurmountable levels of covid-19 pneumonia. Doctors are anguished by the risk to their families that tens of hours with highly infectious patients cause. When might they have to refuse care because they can’t bear the risk anymore? When there are vastly too few ventilators, who is to be denied intubation and given “comfort care” while helpless staff watch them die?

A young urgent care physician and mother ended a News Hour interview last Thursday by saying:

I have had to have very difficult conversations with my family recently, including one with my husband the other night, where, once I realized things were really shifting here in New York City, I said to him, you know, there is a chance that I may not make it out of this, working on the front line. And, you know, I want you to know that I love you. I love our children very much. And just please make sure that they always know that their mama loved them.

And so these are conversations that not just I’m having, but my—many of my colleagues are having with their families as well.

addressing stress realistically
    A specialist on anxiety when that portends panic advises a person to be active: “Face” the phenomenon. (That disarms the demon.) “Accept” the feeling. “Float” (go with the flow). “Let time pass.” But that advice is mere prelude.

A couple of other specialists (here and here), thinking specifically of this pandemic, advise that a person learn the relevant facts; put the pandemic in perspective; identify the sources of anxiety (own your stress); refrain from shaming and blaming; don’t be afraid to ask for help; set goals every day; find joy (more below on that); call a friend; don’t procrastinate about preparing for the worst; “connect, connect, connect” (more on that below); practice self-compassion; and don’t skip the self-care.

enjoying simple pleasures
    Explore the day through walks (with proper social distancing) and hikes. Get crazy with others online with song. Be a mesmerizing cook. Read authors who are reassuring about what matters, finding hope, reason for optimism, gaining restoration, and solace.

being optimistically, happily
    Be lightness, as if the day is ridiculous sport worth narrating, because beyond the singalongs from windowsills and balconies, there are stories of hope. There is heartwarming news.

enjoying solitude
    Suppose you’re an astronaut witnessing all Earthliness, where being alone in our common humanity outstrips loneliness, and there may be magic in listening to nature’s embrace.

literary living for being well
    Maybe your Inner Child will be reborn through life-changing books or love of a poet.

creative fortitude
    Stressful energies can be channeled into creativity.

friendship via screentime
    Genuineness with others can be taken to heart through screentime (which, to my mind, has been true of letters forever). We can be a concerting cultivation across cultures.

    Let there be gratitude of mindfulness—thinking as thanking.

active caring
    The appeal of advancing greater good shows our intrinsic humanity. That may be why the Finns are humanity’s happiest.

reason for hope in relation to system
    Kindness is being celebrated. Health professionals are collaborating across states. Research on treatment across the planet is moving faster than first anticipated. Leaders are gaining empathy. All in all, better futures will be our result. (Even corporations are learning citizenship through initiatives.)

political renewal
    The future belongs to we who institute its promise politically.

It’s not about succumbing to a depressive position, having merely glimmers of hope. (And preparing for the end of the world is rather excessive.)

But defeating autocracy (which exploits crisis) will be complexly difficult.

However, we may feel better than ever that American humanity is thriving—especially inasmuch as values of public health and higher quality of life prevail for economic policies.


I welcome a notion of humanism in the above trans-cultural sense.

I welcome a notion of being American that belongs with Our entire hemisphere
in the planetary presence of Our commonwealth of humanity.




  Be fair. © 2020, gary e. davis