Apr 4, 2020

Millions and Millions of Stars

I know for people all over the world the daily struggles during the Covid19 pandemic are magnified by loss of employment, the possibility of exposure and infection if they’re on the front lines, the reality of financial challenges and financial ruin, the loss of loved ones or friends. And so much more. 

The magnitude of disruption and fear and pain caused by this world event, this pandemic, I hope marks everyone’s heart to consider and reflect. I hope everyone can be a willing participant in a collective humanity that can make the world better post Covid19.  We can all do our part, that’s my hope. I plan to be part of that collective improved humanity. 

To get to that day, the days post Covid19, I’ve taken up three activities that are making a difference for me as the world experiences and lives this unimaginable time. I know it’s not rocket science to do what I’m doing, at the same time, the consistency of these activities is making a difference.

Purposeful Breathing 

Sleep is one of the greatest allies in support of good health. Getting to sleep for me is a bit of a challenge. Not always, but most days. Breathing exercises help tremendously in slowing down the body, they help get me to a place where sleep is not a struggle.  I have an app on my phone that has very simple inhale, exhale practices and I do these 2 or 3 times, eyes closed, lights out or dim and it works. I have an active imagination that can run with crazy ideas, what if scenarios. The breathing calisthenics help abate the runaway factory I have in my head that thinks up all sort of visuals, plans, contingencies; it helps slow down the movie reel of all that I’ve read or seen on a given day.  

Gratitude 1, 2, 3 

A suggestion from a website I visited a few days back, is to think of 3 things good things each day and reflect on them,record them, and review them for character or strength or whatever element of that good thing you are grateful for.  

Sometimes I make the list in my head, sometimes I write it down while I’m writing my daily letters, correspondence. Sometimes I text the 3 good things I’m grateful for to someone in my family or friends.  I did a similar activity when I was in Ghana for my longest visit in 2013, when I was there for 63 days. While in Ghana, I kept a daily list of three good things for each day. I remember that list being somewhat different day to day than what I’m tracking today.  In Ghana my world was focused on being at a school, helping children, supporting the teachers; the geography of my experience was limited to the Kissemah compound, the outdoor school on the patio, the kitchen behind the main house where Ceci cooked and served the meals, the outdoor shower, my volunteer quarters.  

The Ghana gratitude list was mostly practical. And in that space, at that time it made sense. I was grateful for the fan working at night when trying to sleep in a cinder block room with a tin roof, that had baked in a tropical climate that reached on average 90* every day. I was grateful for pencil sharpeners that worked and sharpened pencils down to the very end of the pencil shafts. I was grateful for the best scrambled eggs ever, cooked by Ceci every morning before school started. I was grateful for peanut butter. I was grateful for Ceci heating up water at night so my bucket shower was not splashes of cold water. I was grateful when all the radios in the neighbor’s quarters were finally in the OFF mode so I could sleep without songs in my head. 

The gratitude list of now sometimes encompasses broad almost existential good things, like my lungs working. I’ve actually surprised myself and many times in the past few weeks I’ve caught myself listening to my breaths.  I’ve never done this before; the only exception is when scuba diving or swimming laps at the Marcus Center pool in Atlanta. As of late, I’ve listened to my breaths and I’m so thankful that my lungs are working.  

I’m thankful that the US Post Office is delivering mail.  I send cards and letters daily; I want the handwritten messages to get to their destination. It’s important for me to reach people via a palpable piece of paper or card that they can touch, feel, save in a book, read, and read again if they like. And the ones I receive, I treasure them, they are gems.  

I'm thankful for all the people in the world who grew up to be science experts; people that everyday focus on the development of vaccines. I'm thankful for science professionals that are virus experts, thankful for every person that can help with all that is going on today to try and figure this novel corona virus. 

I'm thankful for leaders. For anyone in a capacity that has to lead people, presidents, priests, pastors, hospital directors, company executives, teachers, the managers at local grocery stores, all leaders all over the world.  I'm thankful for leaders that have both compassion and courage, leaders that don't have all the answers, leaders that are able to surround themselves with smart people and make the right decisions for the right reasons. Leaders that understand that we are truly in this pandemic together, every country, every continent, every citizen of the world. 

I challenge myself not repeat the same “good things” – the possibilities are endless and that’s helps keep me on the positive side of the daily equation.  I have so much to be grateful for.  

Isolation Destination 

I started this a few days ago. I take time to imagine and visualize where I would go if I could isolate anywhere in the world.  Some places I’ve been to before, and certainly they are not practical for everyday living. Being there in my mind even if for 5, 10 minutes, it’s akin to having a wonderful travel show in my head. Some of my favorite destinations so far:  

Iguazu Falls, in Argentina, specifically at the place where you can lean over the viewing area at the Devil’s Throat Falls and see the magnificent spill of millions of gallons of water. You can see water in the air, the explosion of mist is everywhere and its glorious and grand.  The sound of the spill, the magnitude of the water rushing is peaceful in the most audible way possible. 

San Blas Islands, Panama, specifically one of the small islands, in a hammock, under two perfectly distanced palms, listening to the sounds of adolescent waves trying to make their way ashore.  The blues of the ocean unrivaled. The clear, pristine waters magical.  The hint of salt in the air, perfect. 

Our backyard in Barstow, California, specifically the house on College Court. I spent many nights laying on the pool diving board, looking straight up at the night sky where millions of stars where on display, millions and millions.  This same sky was also visible at our Grandparent’s finca in Panama, Linda Vista. I’ve missed those starry nights for years and years. 

Our house in Panama, in Altos del Golf, specifically taking naps with my Mom. That space, those memories, that specific emotional geography lives forever in my heart. That was my safest place in the world, ever. The shelter and shield that can only be afforded by a mother to her children. 


Be the one who, when you walk in,
Blessing shifts to the one who needs it most.
Even if you've not been fed,
Be bread.

- Jelaladdin Rumi -