Column: Mindful of the Needs of Others

# Mindful

We’re reaching the one year mark since the beginning of the pandemic and it feels pretty natural to reflect on what kind of year it has been. I must say, 365 days later and it’s still a trying time for everyone at the moment. Well not everyone. I’m sure my cat is enjoying that I’m home more often than usual. I’m sure your companions are all too cozy, close by and planted beside you, still mindful you have work to do from home because pets are just that great.

If you’re an essential worker at this time, I imagine they can’t wait for their superhero to come home and hang out. But that’s as much hanging out as we all have been doing I hope. It’s still pretty much caution more than company right now. Many people are trying to figure out what normal looks like after a year that exposed so much. I personally am trying to figure out what normal looks like after so many months of contactless greetings.

Others may be trying to figure out what it looks like at home with young children who may not exactly understand what’s going on, whether it be related to family, work or finances. We had a huge election and a global pandemic happen at the same time and it’s important we individually take the time to at least acknowledge the challenges we carried with that.

The range of experiences we are going through right now are without a doubt unprecedented, yet I still see some good in the world … like everywhere. I hope if anything you’ve found supportive, kind people to socially distance with. I hope you come across people who may not be as affected as you but are considerate. I hope you do the same to someone else. We must extend that positivity and understanding to someone else throughout the day.Why? Because checking in on the welfare of our family and friends is free. And easy. And necessary. And you never know what someone is going through.

So I made an effort to be a phone call away, an open ear, to people that may need it. I came across a quote that really summarized this for me:

“We are not all in the same ‘boat.’ We are in the same ‘storm.’
Some have yachts,
Some have canoes,
and some are drowning.
Just be kind and help when you can.”
— Damien Barr

Nearly 500,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the U.S. It’s unfathomable but for our healthcare workers, this is very much real. They have taught us what it means to be essential, but not sacrificial — however, they also taught us what it means to be selfless in times of despair.

Dr. Jacob Appel, an associate professor of psychiatry and medical education at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, asked himself recently in an interview with NPR, “How can I change my own behavior to meet the needs of those around me?” And if this isn’t what Damien Barr is asking us to do, I don’t know what is. We must ask ourselves this question: “What can I do to benefit not only myself, but those around me?”

In a year that exposed existing health inequalities for African Americans, the growing wage gap between women and men and so much more, we must be mindful of one another. Mindful of our differences and similarities and mindful of our hardships or struggles, even while experiencing it all together. It still shocks me how popular the term “snowflake” has gotten, as it means to deliberately mock and gaslight people who are kind to one another. It’s strange.

Being mindful is being conscious. It’s not overly emotional, or sensitive. It’s looking at the world beyond the perspective of your own shoes. As Damien Barr would say, it’s the small ways we extend ourselves to help those who are drowning. Recently President Joe Biden ended the Muslim ban and transgender military ban that was in affect by the previous administration.

For the past year, I made it my assignment to learn a lot about gender equality in order to be more conscious of people’s pronouns and sexuality. That’s what I’ve been up to. It’s easy to assume a person’s gender identity when meeting them, but pronouns are how I can help myself be more knowledgable and contribute to the cultural visibility of the LGBTQ+ community.

March has commenced, and here’s one thing I want you to ask yourself: What is one thing I’m carrying out of this pandemic that I didn’t take in with me. People are discovering DIY projects that they maybe thought they’d never accomplish, while others are rediscovering the natural state of their hair and loving it. Some are ripping their hair out and that’s OK too. Me? I’m carrying the personal responsibility of becoming more of a mindful person. Not nosy, where I need to know everything. Not judgmental, where I feel like I need to add my two cents.

Just mindful. Just an open ear, just a phone call away.