Finding Positivity During
This is usually the exciting time of the year for students, from pre-school through university, as young learners from all over the US prepare for the beginning of
a new school year. Coming off of hot summer vacations to get new clothes for bodies that are still growing and organizing new school supplies for advanced
grades, are what many families would be busy doing right about now.
Only September 2020 is different from any other time and school for every age learner is radically different this year. With the COVID-19 virus pandemic, virtual
learning for Madison and for a mixture of virtual learning with face-to-face learning for UW-Madison students, has begun. While we all want the best for our
young learners, that best includes protecting their physical and mental health as well. It has to be so difficult for parents with school age children, from children
to adults, who are making decisions about what is best for the ones they love. The Labor Day weekend, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease
expert, was critical in determining if our country was headed in the right direction in beating the pandemic with less cases. Before the winter comes, with
increased cases of influenza, we desperately need the COVID-19 cases to decrease. We also desperately need something to be collectively happy about as a
While the COVID-19 cases rose with the opening of UW Madison, causing students in two dormitories and six fraternity houses to be quarantined, this time of
forced rest can make all of us learn in different ways. The very nature of the health pandemic makes us all learn to care for others, due to how this strange,
unknown virus is transmitted. COVID-19 is teaching us to care for each other by wearing masks, increasing our hand hygiene and social distancing. Since
people can be a carrier and not even know it, it requires that we care enough for others to avoid contracting the disease by severely curtailing our people
interactions with others outside of our families. This pandemic requires that we are concerned about the most vulnerable populations, due to health
inequalities. People of color, the hard working poor, the elderly and those with other illnesses are especially susceptible to contracting the disease.
We are all learning discipline and how to be closer as family, while some of us are learning how to be better people alone. Even the poorest of us in the United
States can be better off than other people in various parts of the world when we have access to water, masks and testing. While being in the shelter-in-place, I
have been able to see my adult son in a totally new light. He came home to stay awhile to check on his mother and to help out. He did both tenderly and
lovingly. I always knew he was an extraordinary person, now I am also assured that he is more than capable to live well in the world. Our morning talks as we
walked in the neighborhood are times that I will never forget. He also shared his perspective on the world and our political disagreements were thought
provoking and fun. I laughed a lot with my son and felt better just because he was around.
Being closer to family gave me the opportunity to learn new ways to be happy. Like you, I have learned how to use on-line technology and a variety of platforms.
I wasn’t able to travel to my great niece’s birthday party in Tennessee, but via zoom, I saw relatives at her birthday party that I hadn’t seen in decades. We all
kept smiling at each other, realizing that so many of us would have never been able to be present at the same place at the same time. Resting and reflecting
is always good for a poet, but I’d like to suggest that, due to the fast pace of everyday American life, having mandatory rest gives us time to reflect, improve and
find new ways to be happy. This is difficult. From March to May, I failed at being content alone. I had to learn new strategies, readjust my attitude and become
more grateful for what life offers, not takes away. Please stay safe and look for joy each day.