It can feel like tug-o-war when something that is good for us also hurts us. Change one side only if you change what’s on the other. 

As people most recently grapple with their new balancing acts, some (perhaps many) also hesitate giving space for their thoughts and feelings — now it’s the balancing on top of the balancing. To analogize to another childhood game, do you feel like you’re playing Jenga these days? Shifting the routines on which your days are built but still trying to keep building. Or at least trying to keep the whole tower from toppling!

We can’t help comparing our wobbly towers to those of others. To share certain thoughts out loud can bring forth a quick, yet natural comparison — How can I even share my disappointment or worries out loud when there are others around the world who aren’t safe, healthy or secure right now? What is my inconvenience compared to their great struggle?

Comparative suffering

At first it can feel like we’re adding weight (tilting the balancing load) to the side that needs it the most, yet comparative suffering doesn’t really make things feel lighter. In fact, it can make things feel even heavier because it silences what we need to share. Our voice to our hidden struggles and emotions stays on the inside. Not only does this leave us feeling exhausted, worried or overwhelmed, but also feeling alone.

Hurt is hurt, no matter how it rests alongside or stacks up against another’s. 

Empathy is not a finite resource.

All feelings deserve time and room for understanding.

Keeping our struggles and emotions in perspective while allowing ourselves, and others, to express them can help offset loneliness. This is one of the things we need right now — a magic in the ordinary.

I learned a new word recently–scupper. A scupper is an opening in the side of a ship that allows water to drain into the sea instead of pooling on the deck. Because of course, if the ship has no release for water, it could capsize the entire vessel. We need scuppers too. We need releases for the troubles that pile on us, be they big or small.

These days, loneliness may feel heavier than usual. It might feel dark and heavy enough that it nearly blocks out the sun. But the sun still shines, if we could only see it. 

Woman walking through forest struggling with comparative suffering.

I see it in the vibrant blooms appearing on the trees, in the colorful “social distancing” sidewalk art photos posted on social media, in the acts of service lifting our communities. And, a family in our neighborhood recently posted a video on Facebook sharing front porch (and yard) waves of people across our community. Another neighbor shared that her child’s teacher and children pulled up in front of their house, rang the doorbell, and then started dancing in their front yard. Big smiles shared while keeping distance! 

How do you see the sun shining around you? How about inside you?

Our inner landscape requires readiness, grace and sway in order to thrive (similar to trees). Trees, for example, that stand the test of time, are able to bend and sway with the ever-changing demands of their environment. They have deep roots that prove useful in times of drought, roots that can hold them fast through storms.

This holds true for our inner landscape, as well. The more understanding and flexible we are with changes and shifts of our thoughts and feelings, the better able we are to grow deep not just tall, and withstand inevitable humanness. The work that we do here at Paratus helps anchor us just like those tree roots, helps us sway with storms but not avoid them. And, below are some of the ways we’re helping show that compassion, connection and courage are also contagious and can help us tip the loneliness scales! 

  • Emails with free resources for adults and children (including A World of Wonder Doodle Map and Calliope City to help bring forward in creative play the wishes of what children cannot have in real life at this time and help children identify community helpers, share sunshine, and explore their neighborhood). Sign-up here for future emails! 
  • Online book clubs (new groups start the week of April 6th – click here if you’re interested)
  • Share photos of your explorations and adventures on Instagram using the hashtag #brightsparksofready
  • Children can join the Treasured Adventures Club and say hello to five Ready Explorers (the Ready Explorer fictional characters – Dean, Evey, JD, Myah and Parker) by recording a message online. Children can also send letters, drawings, and adventure ideas to The Ready Explorers will always write back!

Be Well! 

Kristin Signature