Last night my dog fell asleep holding in her mouth her most prized possessions: two tennis balls. I took a picture of it, and not just because the visual was so entirely endearing. I snapped the photo because of the realization that hit me moments before. Marli wasn’t hoarding bones or food or chew toys… or toilet paper. She was holding on to something that daily brought her joy—even while sleeping, just in case any human was suddenly inspired to play ball with her. At the end of the day, it was the positive connection with others that seemed to matter most.
In these crazy times of social distancing, hoarding and negative newsfeeds, I wonder if many of us are holding onto things that don’t bring us joy. And I’m not talking things like toilet paper or hand sanitizer or zinc lozenges, but the toxic stuff like distrust, fear, selfishness and anger. I wonder if as we close our eyes at night that our minds marinate more on what we don’t have, instead of who we have.
Yes, right now we need to socially distance from each other, but that doesn’t mean we have to emotionally distance ourselves. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to people walking past (or away from) me, their eyes lowered with no acknowledgement. But I do know that I am especially grateful to those who smile at me and say “Hi.” That one ounce of human connection can turn the we’re-all-in-this-together cliché into a comforting reality—even for just a moment.
Most of us are sheltering at home, and full transparency, it’s been challenging for me as my over-achiever self is still acclimating to shifting priorities and plans. But then I look at my dog who is probably living her best life right now, with my family playing fetch with her throughout the day. It’s a reminder for me that you have to let go of things like anxiety and fear so you can hold on tightly to everything—and everyone—that can inspire joy, even with six feet between us.