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Joy for the Week Ahead 27 April 2020

#006

Some of you are in places where things are opening up, and you are cautiously venturing out of your homes, perhaps returning to places of work or making decisions about whether to patronize businesses that have opened. There are changes everywhere, and no consistency in the recommendations from doctors and political leaders.

Despite the arguments offline and online about how and when and where to take the next step, there is no one single correct answer. If you feel exhausted from the mental gymnastics of making the “right” decision, be assured that there is no perfect choice. We're all doing the best we can to figure it out as we go along. In order to move forward in the most productive, positive way possible, I indulge freely in any moment of joy if it happens my way!

  • Once more, Ten Percent Happier. Free access to a wonderful meditation app for all people working in healthcare (broadly defined–anyone who works in any kind of healthcare role, whether you are a cleaner or a nurse or a driver or are in any way connected to caring for people during this crisis) and all people who are grocery-related or food-related workers (drivers, cashiers, cleaners, anyone who helps keep us fed in any way). Even if you don't meditate per se, this is a great tool for bouts of anxiety or fear, and there are even short recorded “talks” geared to help you with the self-care that is necessary right now. If you aren't a worker in either of those capacities, the daily 3 p.m. live chat is accessible to all (the recordings are also available).
  • Music for hard times. My father was from Mississippi, and I have clear memories of him singing, “Hey, Good Lookin'” by Hank Williams when he was in a good mood. He loved Hank. I'm not a country music person, but one of my teenagers recently told me that the Hank Williams album, Turn Back the Years: The Essential Hank Williams Collection (Spotify link; you can create a free Spotify account! You can also listen on Pandora, Apple Music, and Amazon Prime Music) is her go-to album for “soothing” music. I asked her why it was “soothing” given that Hank grew up during the Great Depression and World War II, and she replied that the songs are filled with empathy for hard times. I learn something every day from my kids! This is a wonderful collection. The acoustic instruments are lovely, and the storytelling feels like these are people I could know. Lesson: human beings have beat back despair repeatedly, since the beginning of time.
  • Music specifically for isolation. This piece is radically different from Hank Williams' album! Ryuichi Sakamoto, a Japanese composer known for soundtracks such as The Revenant and The Last Emperor, improvised a piece for the people of Wuhan, China in February. The video of his performance is now available on YouTube because so many more people all over the world are in isolation now. The music can sound a bit eerie and mystical, but it's also very calming, and lovely to have in the background if you are working on the computer.
  • MoMa.co.uk. This is the “Museum of Many Artists,” where you can buy and sell art from all over the world. If you are an artist or in a field like graphic arts or design, you will want to look at this list of “Public Domain Images for Artists.” These collections are free of copyright for you to use, but do read the individual collection's requirements carefully, as they are from different countries and have slightly different interpretations of what constitutes public domain use. But the depth of this list is staggering! If you're looking for an artwork to riff off, it's in here for sure…everything from the Smithsonian to the British Library to the Yale Museums.
  • Our Daily Breather, from National Public Radio. NPR asks artists how to find calm during the pandemic. The result: recipes, book recommendations, new songs, and unusual movies to watch, among other interesting suggestions.
  • Last but not least. My local indie theatre presents: The Best of Cat Video Fest. Pay whatever you want for forty minutes of cat joy! Proceeds will support my local (closed for COVID19) indie theater, Red River Theatres in Concord, New Hampshire. Thank you!

I kept thinking that as we got more answers, things would get easier. In fact, things feel harder, now that we know that the transition back to in-person living is going to be difficult. We need each other more than ever right now. Let's be kind, to each other and to ourselves.

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