It was last spring break when we — students and nonessential workers at the University of Minnesota — were all sent home because of COVID-19. Since then, COVID-19 has been hanging over our heads like a dark cloud refusing to dissipate. The panic it caused and the lives it took were things we could not prepare for. It has been over a year now since we learned to live and find our ways through a pandemic. I see this spring break as an anniversary to give thanks for our survival, pray for or think about those who left us and stand together with those still suffering through it.
I know I sound optimistic, but I also know that at some point, we all got tired of COVID-19. I’m sure we’ve all thought of giving up the fight and just living our lives, not thinking much about our safety or anyone else’s; it gets tiring. But it gets even more tiring when we start to think that we have it hardest of all. When we personalize our struggles to the point of obsession — resulting from the restrictions the pandemic brought about — it’s easy to get sidetracked and forget everyone else’s pain. It took me an entire year to even go out for dinner with my friends and family. We all seem to reek of the desperation to get back to normal and go about our lives as they were before.
We’ve been consumed by the pandemic, the elections in November and overwhelmed with school, work, etc. For many, there’s been little time for ourselves and our dear ones. But spring break is here, giving us an opportunity to be grateful. Grateful to be alive. Grateful to have the consciousness to navigate through the inconsistencies of life. Grateful for still having friends and family alive. And above all, grateful to be healthy and capable of going about our lives.
We’ve lost so many lives around the world to this pandemic — with more than half a million in the U.S. alone. It’s easy to sympathize when a stranger loses their life to COVID-19, but when tragedy hits home, it’s a different story. There are those among us who lost near and dear ones but are keeping their heads up, determined to stay afloat. We should take time to think about or pray for those who have passed away and hope for the recovery of those in care.
Spring is the rebirth of nature, with its green beauty and the fresh smell of wet grass after rain. The trees come back to life and give birth to their leaf offspring. The pandemic is like winter, but we are a tree in spring. We grow, prosper and become even more resilient and beautiful. I urge everyone to reconnect with those we forgot about because of our own battles and worries. Our families, friends and even neighbors. Checking in on each other revives the dormant love we once had. Greeting each other cultivates love in what was perhaps a worried heart in pain because of COVID-19.
When you go home this week — or even if you decide to not — make the time to call home and check in on everyone. Call the friends you haven’t heard from in a while. Say “hi” to your neighbors. Write a thank-you note to those who stood by you in both good and bad. Ease your worries and do yoga while listening to your thoughts. Filter them out if they are not of any help and replace them with positive self-affirmations and love.
Some of us are thriving with all the blessings one can have; some of us have worries we live with, yet wonder if we have the strength to pull through. We are with those who are suffering, even if only through goodwill and good intention. You might be surprised to know what the person next to you is going through, so reach out to those you know and check in on them. This spring break is for reconnecting with the people in our lives, reconnecting with ourselves and reclaiming our good nature. Off we go.