By Leah Himlie
Hello everyone! I will start by saying that this is my last scheduled article through the project. Since I am a senior, I will not be coming back next year. Thank you to everyone who has read my articles through the past two years. I have received many nice comments and words of encouragement, and knowing how many people I have touched makes me smile. I like challenging ideas that have been accepted for so long that no one questions them anymore; however, with the current situation, I don’t think anyone wants to read about yet another thing I find wrong with our society. Instead, I will give you some gentle reminders of things that can easily be forgotten during a time of stress and uncertainty and my vision of a better future after this.
First, here are some gentle reminders: remember to take breaks if you are working from home. It can be easy to get absorbed into something and forget to eat lunch. Alternatively, if you have trouble staying focused on the work you need to do, consider creating a space into which you can step to get your brain into “work mode.” Remember that your feelings regarding the situation are real and valid regardless of what they may be. You may feel frustrated or inconvenienced or sad or angry or indifferent or even happy about certain aspects of the situation. That’s okay. Just remember that others will feel differently, and we need to respect their feelings as well. Also, remember to take care of yourself emotionally and mentally as well as physically. Humans are naturally social creatures, so isolation can be difficult for some. Remember to check on friends, family, and neighbors who might be alone or struggling. You can call, text, video chat, or even open a window and start shouting. (The last suggestion may be a disturbance to others. Use it wisely.) For example, there are images circulating of Italians singing from their balconies together. We can use this time to come together as a community and take care of one another, even if we cannot be together physically.
Though this is a difficult time for everyone, there are still some good things in the world that I hope will continue once we have weathered this storm. I have already mentioned the sense of community that is emerging from Italy. I hope that we as Americans and as Minnesotans can do the same and support each other even after this has passed. I hope we can extend that empathy and support to minorities and working class people who need it on a day-to-day basis. Many companies are allowing their employees to work from home so that they can still be paid and be able to pay the bills. I hope companies continue to be accomodating for the disabled people and those who need such arrangements in order to find a job. In China the concentration of nitrogen dioxide, an air pollutant, has dropped by an estimate of 40% according to the European Space Agency. This shows that if we make drastic changes to our lifestyles, the Earth can heal. We still have time to combat climate change. There is hope for a better future.
Lastly, thank you to everyone who is doing what they can in order to curb the effects of the virus. Thank you to our healthcare workers, grocery store workers, truck drivers, researchers, teachers, and more. Thank you to Governor Walz for doing the best he can in a time of crisis. Thank you to everyone who is doing their best to protect others in any way they can, even if it is simply by staying home or only buying what is needed and not hoarding. We are living through a difficult time, but we can come out of it stronger and more united than before.
Leah Himlie is a student at Rushford-Peterson High School. She is one of eight area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 21st year.