By a show of hands, how many of you out there like the recent news stories about the animal shelters with no more dogs available for adoption? It seems like we have time on our hands, maybe some loneliness, and love in our hearts. So we are adopting dogs. Please raise your hand if you like these stories or if you just found out about this and like the good news.
Now, while keeping that hand up, please raise your other hand if you answer yes to any of these questions: Are you a republican? Are you a democrat? Are you neither?
At this point, based on deep analysis—and a firm grasp of the obvious—provided you followed the request regarding your hands in the air, I am guessing that you look like a cheerleader or someone weirdly stretching, with limbs all forked up. Since the survey is over, you can put your arms down whenever you would like. However, just to warn you, more questions are coming. So if you need to comb your hair, brush your teeth, or get out of your pajamas, now is the time. Oops. Never mind. Most of us are quarantining and—if you are like me—it may have been days or weeks since you did any of these things.
Did you see the story about the lions lying on the roads in South Africa? Did you watch the video of dolphins in and around the canals of Venice? Have you seen the shots from space that show air pollution reduced around the world? How about people singing from balconies or clapping every night at 8:00 pm to honor healthcare workers? What about individuals and social organizations delivering food to those unable to leave their homes? And, for goodness sake, how about the grocery store workers and truck drivers making sure we can feed ourselves and our loved ones?
So what in the world is all of this about?
Love. Bipartisan love. Universal love. Better yet, strike the word bipartisan or universal or whatever. It’s just love.
I understand that the drivers and checkers have to work, and I am deeply appreciative of the risks they are taking for my family and community, but their actions are also founded in love, as their work is a means to an end—with the end being taking care of their loved ones, too. And maybe it isn’t a direct love of lions that leads to them sunbathing on asphalt. But that end is also an outcome of love.
My home is set up right now with my “office” at my kitchen counter. Our laundry room sits just off the kitchen. Two weeks ago we got two baby miniature goats, only five days old when we brought them home. If you want to have something new and fun to do during the stay-at-home, get a couple of goats. Yesterday, one of my daughters was sitting by the dryer in their little indoor cage. She kept quietly saying, “I love you” to her new buddies, Percy and Jessie.
Wanting a dog is mostly about wanting to give and get kindness. It is about a desire for companionship, on both sides of the fence. It is about feeling what matters and acting on that feeling. No matter how you try to wrap it up, that feeling is love. This is why we like the stories about lions and dolphins and less air pollution. When you peel all the layers back, it’s all about love.
Sorry to do this again, but please raise your hand if you answer yes to this question: If we are able to let love lead more right now, do you think we can let love lead when we aren’t in peril, be it economic, physical, or otherwise? Please keep that hand up. Here is the next to last question. Raise your other hand if the answer is yes. Can you do more from this point forward—more than you were doing before—to share your love? If both hands are up, then ask yourself, “Why didn’t you do more before?” Time? Money? Apathy? Priorities? More often than not, the answer to this question is priorities.
When we slow down while facing new challenges, our priorities shift. The maddening pursuits, the blood-boiling frustrations, and the political and economic battle lines can be overpowering when we lose track of what matters. They shade and direct our daily actions. The slowing down and the awareness of common ground get us refocused. They rejigger our priorities.
Now, with hands back down, make a list of three simple things you can do—in our new normal—that reflects your love. Make doing these things your priority. Can one of them be an act of kindness for someone, regardless of their political affiliation? Maybe think of them as a dog—in a positive way. Most dogs have allegiances, but they are also open to hanging out with just about anyone who does what it takes to make their tail wag.
Here is the last question: When you had both hands up, did you smell something funny? If so, there is a chance you’re overdue for a shower.