“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature. “It’s time to see and listen to each other again.” (Joe Biden)
Finding a life of peaceful contentment at home seemed very important to Paul after thirty plus years of stressful leadership as a teacher/professor in diversely populated South Florida. Thus he would not fear this radical lifestyle transition to slow down after retirement, for being adaptable to change in dealing with his underprivileged students in the classroom seemed to be a main “calling card” of his prior educational success then. Furthermore, Paul’s struggles with such challenging student situations had also fully prepared him for avoiding confrontation in his later life by accordingly embracing opposing points of view.
Yet as the Corona pandemic had deepened in the past year, the dynamics of human encounter had radically changed for Paul. For the drastic uncertainties of disease exposure and prolonged isolation of being indoors had deadened his enjoyment of most casual human encounters. While his more outgoing wife Marjorie seemed more adept at moving beyond such social upheaval with phone “chit chats” and quick text messaging each day, the more introverted Paul thus frequently fell into fits of being programmed to feel alone.
As a consequence of such negative introspection, Paul’s emotions on each passing day periodically alternated between sulking fits and toxic rants. For it seemed he could no longer tolerate well any noticeable distractions in the outside world. Consider for example his sudden overreaction to the chaotic clamor of barking dogs, a screaming mother and her needy children resonating from the recently occupied rental unit next door. Likewise, understand Paul’s chronic irritation upon hearing the unpleasant sounds of construction workers banging/drilling on the front catwalk of his building for weeks at a time. Visualize as well how the macho young guy in the unit below spiked Paul’s blood pressure by loudly revving up his heavy truck engine for several minutes every morning before leaving for work.
Fortunately, I can report new hope for Paul’s inner crisis in this story as the enlightened leadership of newly elected President Joe Biden would no doubt spark a sudden “wake up” call in this critical juncture of his evolving life. For Mr. Biden’s statement in his inaugural speech to “walk in the other person’s shoes for a moment” seemed to resonate instantly with Paul as a way out of his current behavioral “funk.” Observe for example that these timely words of the President would motivate Paul to “strike up” some friendly conversations of mutual interest with his new neighbor as a prerequisite to getting her full attention about the required courtesies of dog/children behavior. It might seem equally apparent to you that as Paul engaged in pleasant, “small talk” with the big truck owner about his “souped up” vehicle or respectfully inquired with the construction worker about the fine details of his pounding/drilling efforts, that these caring actions would help “get through” to each of them eventually to change their noise altering ways. For as the old saying goes, he reasoned again, “you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar.”
So at the very least, the passing of time into 2021 had produced a beautiful rainbow on the uncertain horizon for this currently distressed retiree to break out of his self inflicted cocoon of isolation. In fact, he would even feel inspired to volunteer as a healing activist at local Community Center gatherings on upcoming Saturday mornings hoping to share his captivating stories from his travels and teaching days to strangers who had also been afflicted by loneliness and job loss amid the exploding pandemic. What actions then might feel right for you now in extending a hand to others in curtailing the ugliness of our divided country now?