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Small Things Are Still Something

Small Things Are Still Something

Anxiety, confusion, anger, and — probably — fear has put many of us into a state of low level (or high level) blues. Yet, as summer draws to a close we traditionally take time to look inward in anticipation of the Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur holidays and the post-Labor Day restart of the year. The month of Elul is supposed to trigger self reflection. Many of us already have spent months thinking about what we missed or the ways that we failed this year. But I suspect that a little searching will help us see sparks of positive changes that came about because of the challenges we all have been facing. It is time to focus on those things.

In my family, we talk about the positive changes regularly to remind ourselves that we are taking steps forward even as it feels like the world is pushing us back. So, here are a few:

  1. With all of our eating at home: 
    • We realized how much paper we were using, and we switched entirely to reusable cloth towels.
    • Because we cook everything ourselves, we began to accumulate much more food waste, and we finally started regular composting. I have started to do research on other ways to reduce household waste something I have wanted to figure out forever and would love to hear how others have managed it.
    • We began to experiment with new recipes and my kids began baking challah each week.
    • Food became so much more central to our activities that we got better at acknowledging the planning, purchasing, and preparation of food for the family.
    • We planted a vegetable garden.
  1. Our oldest daughter came home from Chicago for 4 precious months back in our house.
  2. Because we could not — and did not have to — go to as many places:
    • We started to sit on our front porch and talk with neighbors who are passing by.
    • We spent much more time together as a family talking, reading books together, snuggling on the couch for movies. 
    • We did an at home Prom that really was wonderful.
    • We get together with family and friends through video conferencing more than we would have in ordinary times — and I think that will last.
  1. We laughed together all the time.

I dont want to minimize the loss of conventional proms, holidays, weddings, funerals, and socializing, or the fact that there is a constant roar of political and social/racial justice turmoil in the background. I share in the sadness we all feel for the suffering around us, and in some of our lives right now. But, while that suffering may be unusual for people in a community like ours, it is not that unusual for underprivileged communities around the world. COVID is just another burden for many people whose lives already are difficult.

Sometimes we need to reach a low point to jolt us into change. And, our privileges give us an opportunity many do not have to learn and take action. Beginning to reduce waste and compost may be a small thing, but it is something, and it gives me hope that our efforts can improve the future. 

I also looked at what worries me the most in our country. I decided I have to at least do a small thing  — something — to help bring about change. I am registered to vote, I am volunteering to register others, and I am recruiting people to help with voter protection. Will my efforts make a difference? Not on their own, but just like composting and reducing waste, it gives me hope that my efforts, combined with everyone elses will lead to a better future.

I hope you will use this time of reflection to show appreciation to yourself for how you have managed in these difficult times. Stay safe. 

Meredith Fuchs

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