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Found on an acequia wall in the North Valley

With apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez


People are noticing that emotions might be riding higher than usual right now. True for me, too. I don't easily feel anger. I'm much more in touch with sorrow generally, with feeling hurt. But Monday I got two emails that I responded to (internally) in a high dudgeon of anger. At another time, I would possibly have been somewhat angry, but not like this. I let the anger be there all day—doing none of the work I had planned, not going outside even once, taking two naps, reading in bed—sulking if the truth be known. Indulging my anger.


Or maybe I was doing something else. In the past couple of days I've seen two memes advising us in the time of COVID-19 not to pay attention to those other memes that are advocating self-improvement in the face of devastation. Instead, they say, Be extra tender with yourself. We are in a time of collective grief. It's all right to be sad, angry, even despondent (though I hope none of us gets stuck there). It's a time for accepting what we're feeling, a time for gentleness with self and others. When I think about self- acceptance, I so often remember the simple, profound prayer of memoirist Patricia Hampl, in Virgin Time: In Search of the Contemplative Life: "This is how I am." That's all. This is how I am. It is all right to be how and who I am. In fact, it is probably a duty.


Perhaps the recommendation itself sounds like self-improvement. I guess if you tend to be harsh with yourself, being gentle would be an improvement. Accepting myself exactly as I am—also an improvement because I'm often not there. Nevertheless, in trying to show the face of love here in the time of Corona, in revealing a silver lining or two, I hope I haven't been guilty of advocating self-improvement. If I have you may chastise me. But gently, in love, please.


When the thumb of fear lifts, we are so alive.

                                  ~ Mary Oliver,

from "May," White Pine

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