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Handling the big chill

Handling the big chill
Handling the big chill
Dr. Wayne Willis

“All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.” —Thomas Wolfe

Animals in October, knowing winter’s closing in, get busy. Bats scout out attics and caves for places to roost upside-down through the cold. Skunks winterize, digging elaborate burrows beneath decks and porches and sheds. Bears eat and drink all they can hold before lying down to a long winter’s nap. Squirrels carry and bury nuts. And, judging from sounds I heard this morning, geese move south.

For much of humankind, however, October of 2020 is different. In a word, according to Princeton cognitive psychologist Elke Weber, “The whole world is depressed.” Many of us will not be hosting the big family reunion at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some of us haven’t shaken a hand or hugged another human being, outside immediate family, since March. Those of us who religiously wear masks haven’t seen, up close and in person, the unveiled faces of dear friends.

So, in old October, come on home, human being. Be present, right here, right now.

Here’s how. Draw two circles. In a large circle, write big concerns over which you have little or no control, say a gigafire out west or a devastating hurricane out east or COVID-19 everywhere.

In the smaller circle, write things you can affect. You can love the ones you’ve been given to love. You can write or call a lonely, hurting or forgotten, or, in Wolfe’s word, “forsaken” individual in your modest circle. Simply begin, “Hello, human being. I’ve had you on my mind. How are you?”

Your initiative could take the chill off someone’s old October (or November) day.