Hello library friends,
For the past few days, I’ve been feeling an uptick in stress and anxiety about the virus. Maybe you have, too. For me, two things seem to help more than any others: Mindfulness and… (you guessed it) reading. Focusing on the salad in front of me or the song spilling out of my stereo or the cat purring in my lap allows me to, not only forget about everything else, but to remember that what’s truly important is what’s happening right here, right now. That’s where my life is: Right here, right now. This moment is all that there is, and I’d better not miss it. For me, Thich Nhat Hanh’s guidance has been invaluable. If you’re looking for something a little less Zenny, though, you might check out the website of the magazine Mindful. It’s a beautifully organized site, and it even has a page dedicated to COVID resources.
Of course, the idea of a stressed-out librarian reading to calm herself down probably comes as no surprise. Right now, I’m in the middle of several books, different ones for different times of the day and different reading nooks. What am I gravitating to during this stressful time? At the moment:
• Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry (I don’t know that a character has ever been created that outshines Aurora Greenway.)
• Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (I’m only a fourth of the way through, but I can already recommend it VERY highly.)
• From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Who doesn’t love revisiting a childhood favorite during times of stress?)
• Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (My all-time favorite book. I’ve instructed my loved ones that, when I die, I want to be buried with a copy. I’m always reading it. It lives in my purse.)
Reading does so much for calming the mind. There’s a wonderful opinion piece in the New York Times by Margaret Renkl that celebrates reading during the coronavirus (and implores people to continue to patronize independent booksellers), Here are my favorite bits:
What a book offers that I most need myself is a way to slow down. A book doesn’t drag me along at the speed of life — or the speed of breaking news — the way television shows and movies do. A book lets me linger, slowing down or speeding up as I wish, backtracking with the turn of a page. When I pause to ponder the words I’ve just read, my hands and eyes fall still, and the story stops, too.
In talking about books, we habitually use the present tense to describe the story’s action. The novel’s protagonist is happy or afraid. The memoir’s antagonist is furious or deranged. The poem’s speaker is alight with love. Is, is, is, as though the act of reading itself suspends us in an endless present, removed from the consequences of time. As though we ourselves are timeless creatures: young or old or in-between, as the tale requires, no matter how many actual years we carry in our cells.
I think that says it all.
I have only one other resource for you today, but it’s an important one:
Legal and Benefits Updates for Vermonters – The outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus has created many changes in the way Vermont courts are operating, changes to public benefits, and more. This page is filled with fantastic information from evictions and foreclosures to federal student loans to child custody arrangements during the pandemic.
Be well, friends.