Channels Of Love
by Zach Fredman
It’s been a week unlike any other in our lives. Every one of us has been shaken. In our isolation and pain and heartache and frustration, none of us is unique. And though we cannot kiss or cry or sing together, we are together in our suffering. The great heart of the world aches.
Many of us are overwhelmed with anxiety. It is difficult to contain and it spills into depression, fear, and gloom. Think of all the thoughts that have zig-zagged your consciousness in the last week: I may get sick and die. My child, parent or sibling, my friends and loved ones may get sick and die. If I get sick, I might not get care. Many people are sick, dying, and going to die. My finances and my work are wrecked, and I may not be able to pay for rent or food. I’m being a total asshole to the people I live with. I live alone, and I feel terribly alone. The list could go on. Any one of these thoughts would induce great worry. All at once, we have no chance.
Let’s allow for an inordinary benevolence of compassion towards ourselves. That’s where it has to begin. If we can’t keep our own hearts, it will be hard for us to care for others. Astonish yourself in self-care — but the right kind. Not a benevolence of gluttony in all its many guises (food, drink, substances, entertainment). A benevolence of patience, compassion, tenderness, gentleness, love.
I’ve been amazed this week to connect with old friends and relationships that I haven’t revisited in some time. John, who taught me classical guitar, came to my home in St. Louis once a week to file my nails and muse Chet Atkins. I caught his 3am set as he sat in the Paris airport, kicked out of his hotel, waiting for a plane home. I requested When You Wish Upon A Star, and he played it, all in harmonics, as the Parisian airport workers passed by. This morning over legos, Rumi and I sat in on the Torah class of my friend Oliver, a rabbi in London, who I met during my semester in Jerusalem. Justin, who recorded our first record, put on a show last night, and we waved.
Why did it take a tragedy of this proportion to open channels of love that had lain dormant? When we’re asleep to the everyday magic of life, even the emotional roller coasters that fill the most ordinary spring of a lifetime do not qualify in our obtuse metrics as shared experiences. May we not forget how dear we are to one another.
That’s what I didn’t understand. I had no idea how nourishing we are for one another. All of us. The coworker who is nothing but a headache. The teachers of our children. Their classmates. The workers at your go-to cafe. All the people whose names you do not know that you cross on the sidewalk any given day. All the faces of the friends who make up our days. We are giving life to each other, sustaining each other in microdoses of love transmitted in glances, smiles, small talk, not-so-small talk, and song. Some of the ache we feel is the loss of all that love we didn’t even know we were getting.
There will be good days, and less than good days. Receive them all the same. When you’re happy, be an ambassador of happiness. When you’re not, call a friend.
April 28, 2020