We Are All In This Together
By: Melissa Berman
May 16, 2021
I was on the platform for the downtown F train in midtown Manhattan, heading to visit a friend, when they announced that all but one train had stopped running. Like lemmings, the crowd, myself included, rushed towards the working train. As I stood midway down the staircase to the track, I looked out at the packed subway platform, about 20 people deep, stretching as far as the eye could see. At that moment, a very loud voice inside my head, said “Get. Out. Now.”
It was cold and raining when I reached the street, but I didn’t care. I walked 40 blocks to my apartment. No more public transportation. No more crowds. In fact, no more New York City, for a while anyway. I felt something ominous coming, and I needed to get to a place of safety. That was about 10 days before lockdown. We’d heard the virus mentioned in the news, but people were still going about their daily bustling city business. Hand sanitizer was flying off the shelves, but there remained plenty of toilet paper. Still, the sight of the jam-packed subway was an alarm for me. Like the flip of a switch, my nervous system went into fight or flight mode. In an instant, I decided to flee to my place in Montauk, for a month, maybe two I thought, until things calmed down. I booked myself on the last bus out – thinking it would be mostly empty - safe. I arrived in Montauk at 2 a.m. and never went back to NYC.
We all know what happened next. The biggest health crisis of our lifetime.
He continues, “Another thing to think about is the way people respond to threats. Some will circle the wagons, everyone for themselves as a way to keep out the dangerous elements. It’s interesting to see the surge of racial justice protests within this context, seeing that the other way to experience threat is to cooperate and try and work together. It’ll be interesting to see how, as countries and as individuals, we might wish to maintain an isolating stance, or realize we are all in this together. I think we can come out of this feeling more globally connected to others, more environmentally responsible and mindful.”
She also suggests, “Focusing on one’s breath to bring calm, and release tension, can be helpful. Maybe a simple mantra to repeat over and over such as:
I am safe, I am protected
I am alive and healthy
It can also be useful to remember things from this time that we want to maintain, once things are ‘back to normal.’ To reflect on how we found ways to thrive and survive during all the chaos. To constantly remind ourselves that we are not alone in this crisis.”
Levin sums it up this way, “Life is precious, it can be short, love yourself and try to love as many others as possible.”