Gentle Pursuits and Small Kindnesses

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In mid-January, I went to see a new rheumatologist. She convinced me it was time to start taking an immunosuppressant. It’s been working well, and at first, my only concern was what it might be doing to my liver and kidneys. Monthly blood tests will track whether the meds are doing any damage.

Now here we are, two months on, in the middle of a pandemic, and I’m officially immunocompromised, one of the vulnerable you’re being warned you need to protect.

Timing. It’s never been my superpower.

Anxiety, on the other hand, I’m a champion of that!

As I spend time alone, looking through the internet and trying to stay positive, I’m seeing so many lovely ways people are responding to this crisis. Friends are taking up mending, launching themselves into knitting projects. Tending to houseplants and planting seeds, following gentle pursuits as an antidote to fear.

Many are acting with generosity, reaching out to vulnerable people, offering to pick up groceries for a neighbour, or dropping a cooked meal to someone who needs to self-isolate.

A lot of people are doing their necessary shopping at small businesses and donating what they can to their favourite arts groups to ensure they’ll still be here when the crisis has passed.

As more and more people are forced to slow down and step back from their lives, I hope we’ll use this time to reflect, and to question the assumptions we live by.

Being so close to cataclysm makes us ask questions and make changes.

I hope we’ll all gain a new appreciation for being able to breathe. This virus takes that ability away from its victims quite visibly, and air pollution takes it away from millions more, not quite so visibly. As factories shut down and the skies start to clear, maybe we’ll decide to make the changes we need to make to improve our air quality and the health of our land and waterways.

I hope that corporations and world bodies and organizations that, until now, have insisted that everyone needed to be in the same room together to get anything done, will have good experiences with working remotely and web conferencing. I hope they’ll decide to continue with that model.

I hope that the gentle pursuits and small kindnesses will light something in our hearts to allow us all to continue them long after the danger is past.

We’re seeing how incredibly fragile humanity is. It’s a terrifying and tender moment.

We fall in love with babies and small animals in part because of their fragility. The fact that they’re small and round and fuzzy doesn’t hurt.

Grown-up humans don’t have the advantage of being small. Any roundness we have is seen as a detriment, and any fuzziness is awkward.

But if we can see the fragility in each other, we fall in love, the way we fall in love with the small defenseless ones.

If we let it, this time of uncertainty and fear can make us see each other, see our fragility, our utter defenselessness, and fall in love.

A world that has fallen in love with itself will move forward from this much differently than the less caring world that fell into it.

It feels like this could be a chance for us to wake up from the trance we’ve been in for a very long time. A trance made up of speed and fear. We’ve been trying to keep up with an ever-elusive race for an ever-changing goal, and now we have to slow down. Some of us have to stop. In so many places and for so many people there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go, and now we have to stop and think and oh, how we hate to do that!

Our busyness has been us trying to outrun an unnamed grief and fear and loneliness caused by the busyness we got caught up in. It’s been a self-fed maelstrom, and now it’s breaking apart. And we’re going to feel the sadness, feel the fear, which won’t be comfortable.

We need to reach out to each other. Talk to each other. Share ideas for a better way. Share our toilet paper and other necessary supplies. Trade childcare. Cook meals.

My heart goes out to the victims of this pandemic, the people who have died and their loved ones left to grieve.

When this is over, will we go back to the way it was?

I truly, truly hope not.

I hope we will remember the humanity we share. I hope we will remember to care for each other. I hope we will fall in love forever.

Be well, my friends. You matter to me.

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5 Responses to Gentle Pursuits and Small Kindnesses

  1. Heidi Ruttinger says:

    Absolutely beautiful, Barb! Your words touch my heart. Thank you.

  2. Gayle Coleman says:

    thank you…

  3. Margaret says:

    Beautiful and thoughtful as usual xxoxo

  4. Ann says:

    Thank you Barb!! So beautifully written

  5. John Cowling says:


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