I don’t know about you but I’m a bit stir crazy. Six months into this pandemic and the novelty has worn thin. However, the cruelty in its wake remains daunting. Everyone is touched in some way. There’s no contest in which I would be declared among the most harmed. Indeed, I have my health, and total control of my choices. I am blessed and know it. While I have friends who have survived COVID, I have attended one funeral. My fingers are crossed that my family and loved ones will stay safe. And, now that school has started my anxiety has increased.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes to mind. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs#/media/File:Maslow’s_Hierarchy_of_Needs2.svg

1—Basic Needs come first—

—Physiological needs: food, water, warmth, rest

—Safety: security and physical safety

2—Psychological Needs

—Belongingness and love: intimate relationships, friends

—Esteem Needs: Prestige, feeling of accomplishment

3—Self-fulfillment needs: achieving one’s full potential, including creative activities

When our world changed in March of 2020, our primary concerns were for our physiological and safety needs. Could we touch surfaces, how could we get food? Touching doorknobs and using a public restroom became a test of nerves.

Then came the consideration of how we should isolate. The process of reviewing all of our social activity and everyone we held dear through a prism of safety felt alien and ungenerous. Judgement calls about whether to socialize with friends, or allow anyone in the household sometimes came to battle lines.

Love and belonging, important to our well-being, took a back seat to safety. And in that weaning process our own self esteem automatically takes a hit. Our sense of freedom, control and status in the family or community can be strained. Second guessing is contagious, too.

With basic needs requiring so much energy, targeting self-actualization feels like a moon-shot, but it is what helps keep life worth living. Having the bandwidth to listen to the voice in one’s head that urges you on to become the most that you can be is a stretch for many right now. But, being a good community member, helping when you see a need, listening when others need to vent or problem solve—most of these are small acts, and they happen every day. How are you getting through this? Most of us are doing so with the help of our friends.

I’m bemoaning the coming of fall in Minnesota. I love autumn, but it brings with it the necessity of spending more time indoors. And, that means, no more socially distant visits at the park, coffee dates on the patio….

Fortunately, I can count on my book club. We normally break for the summer, but starting in April, we opted to continue virtually in order to connect and check in with one another. Such a good idea! This year, more than most, I’m celebrating my book club. Last week we held our organizational meeting and pitched our books for the year. I’m so excited to have a list of books to read together and discuss with my good friends.

Book clubs check alot of boxes on the hierarchy of needs.  My book club hits esteem, love and belonging, and self actualization out of the park!  As an extra bonus, it also provides respite from the intensity of the news of the day beyond the pandemic which includes hurricanes, wildfires, a renewed focus on racial injustice and a contentious campaign season. The comfort of checking in with friends cannot be overstated. Laughter is an elixir for all of us. Even though Zoom has its limitations, an hour or two of book discussion is just what I need every month. And, it’s safe, too! Now if we could only figure out how to get a fancy dessert to everyone each time….Wine has never been an issue….

Happy Reading! 

BTW, I love visiting book clubs, and can do so via zoom if you’d like to read A Better Next. Contact me through my website.