Six words have been popping up in all of my conversations lately: We see things as we are. In sessions with clients to catching up with my best friend, this phrase is an inevitable truth that has been my North Star as of the late. Los Angeles is staying at home in response to COVID-19, causing mass unemployment, immense fear, and a larger debilitating anxiety casting a shadow over the city. However, the truth is, this shadow existed for many residents prior to this pandemic. The city of Los Angeles has a population of at least 52,765 people experiencing homelessness. A lack of sanitation, bathrooms, and general respect for those without homes has dimmed what is known as the city of stars. The cost of living thrives as a threat to those who keep the city running – grocery store workers, janitors, security guards, parking attendants, and even those with fancy degrees protecting the public like nurses and social workers. Amidst all those roles are folks who may be living without documentation of their citizenship. Despite this reality we’ve collectively coexisted within, we see things as we are. We see things from our perspective. We overlook what isn’t in our immediate peripherals.
Thus, social distancing has proven to be an interesting moment. It is a moment of leveling. Most of us are out of work. The majority of those who aren’t are still underpaid, under appreciated, and have never had their health more at risk. We’re all in here, together. We’re all responsible for one another, together. We’re a collective grappling with notions of freedom, security, and mortality. We’re here. And, according to Mayor Garcetti, we probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
I’m solution-oriented in my life. I survive through a balance of simple indulgences and service to others. While I will continue to show up to be of service in all ways I am able to, the structures I operate within are just as faulty. Liberation is an ongoing journey, one that ebbs and flows with the trials and tribulations present from generation to generation. I realize that the structures in which I show up to be of service may very well crumble just as everyone else’s. A bittersweet reminder of the innovation life requires from us with a minute’s notice.
So, speaking of innovation and a solution-oriented perspective: What can we do? We can stay home, if that is our current purpose. We can innovate digital ways of supporting one another. We can commit to memory this fragment in time and vow to volunteer for crisis hotlines, an essential activity that can be done from the safety of your home after completing required trainings. Or, we can show up to work, conversely, if that is our given charge. But, big picture aside, we can do what the bare minimum has always been and will always be: We can be a good neighbor to those we live amongst, housed and unhoused. We can be a good ancestor to family members, elderly and young.
Riddled with anxiety and not sure where to start? Pick up the phone, call someone you love, and ask them what you can do for them today. This is your medicine. Take a dose as many times as you need.