Let My Heart Be Open…

These are challenging times.

I’ve been reading a lot of posts — as well as the comments they elicit — by my fellow bloggers.

One theme that often emerges is Covid-fatigue.

This is not the fatigue that one experiences when one contracts the Covid-19 virus (although I have been told that fatigue is often a symptom of Covid-19 infection and can last much longer than one would like…)

This is being tired of wearing a mask outside and sometimes even inside if one is quarantining at home with others.

This is being tired of not seeing people’s faces — and smiles — while going to work or buying groceries or walking one’s dog.

This is being tired of feeling scared that one might contract the virus.

This is being tired of feeling upset by the folks who have been listening to a different stream of news — one in which mask-wearing is not necessary and the virus is nothing to fear.

This is — in some very sad cases — being heart-broken that one is unable to visit and comfort a loved one who is fighting for her or his life in a hospital.

This is being tired of not seeing one’s extended web of family and friends at Thanksgiving — and probably not seeing them for the winter holidays either…

This is being tired of not being able to do many of the things that some of us formerly took for granted — like BBQ-ing with friends, or seeing a movie in a theater, or going on a date, or eating in a restaurant, or attending a concert or…. you fill in the blank.

The list goes on and on.

The news of surprisingly robust results from many different vaccine trials gives me a shred of hope — a possible light at the end of a long tunnel.

But this will take time — more time than most of us want to acknowledge.

And we will probably need to wear our masks even AFTER we have been vaccinated because there is very little data — yet — about how infectious those who have been vaccinated may be to others who have not yet been vaccinated.

And not everyone — for a spectrum of reasons both historical and personal and political — may agree to be vaccinated…

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Then there is the fatigue — physical, emotional, spiritual — that our nurses and EMTs and doctors and others who help to take care of Covid-19 patients are experiencing.

In many cases it is beyond fatigue.

It is trauma.

We are going to emerge from this health crisis with a significant number of our caregivers having been traumatized and in need of all sorts of healing for THEIR bodies, minds and spirits.

Some of them may decide that they can no longer risk their lives taking care of others — especially others who minimize and/or deny the threat of Covid-19 (and thus help to worsen everyone’s collective health and the horrific burden being placed on our health care workers).

I learned recently that one of my friends — a former housemate with whom I lived after college (along with three other people) in a run-down but functional duplex apartment outside Central Square in Cambridge, MA — just spent five days in a hospital fighting to breathe with a Covid infection.

He posted on Facebook:

“I didn’t get the mild version. It was a grueling, terrifying experience. I would like to make a plea for any of you who doubt the danger of this bug to rethink that. If you are thinking, ‘I probably won’t get it’ or ‘it probably won’t kill me’ you’re in danger — and the people around you are as well. Please don’t let your guard down. You’ll never know what you’re missing.”

In another post he shared more details:

“When my COVID was at its worst I had a temperature of 103, and each breath only gave me a few teaspoons of air. I would get panicked, and I would cough and gasp, but there was no more room in my lungs. A nurse at the ER told me to try not to cough; so I started counting my breaths, trying to make it to 100 without coughing. I’d get to about 37 and involuntarily cough/gasp. And then came one of those moments when you realize you had something and never appreciated it and maybe it’s gone. I wanted a regular breath, nothing fancy, and if I could have it I wouldn’t take it for granted anymore. So today I am deeply thankful for my lungs. I’m sharing this hoping that, if you don’t already appreciate your lungs, you’ll take a nice deep breath and appreciate them right now…”

Deep breath in.

And out.

So how did my friend end up in the hospital?

“I got a flu shot the Wednesday of the week before Thanksgiving. Felt achy the next day. Not sure if it was the shot or COVID. By Saturday my chest was getting tight. On Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday. I was going to the ER every evening (it gets bad in the evening — no one can tell me how the virus knows what time it is), struggling to breath, doing this sort of gasping/cough thing that just excited my lungs and made them more desperate. Fever kept getting worse — 103 degrees by Wednesday, (when) I went to a new hospital.”

They admitted my friend and started him on a 5 day course of Remdesivir.

At this point I didn’t know where this was going. The thing about the coughing/gasping is that they really didn’t have anything to stop it. I asked a doctor how concerned he was that I might die, and he said, “Not at all.” That was reassuring. Up until then I was worried about A) being on a ventilator and B) dying. They tell me that they don’t put people on ventilators as much now that they know more about treatment. Gradually, my symptoms receded. Very grateful.”

He was treated in the hospital with Remdesivir, oxygen, cough syrup, nebulizer treatments, and tylenol to control his fever.

He’s pretty sure he got Covid from his 18-year-old daughter, who had a fever for a couple of days and then was fine.

His final comment on Facebook was:

“(Covid infection) varies greatly and it can turn on a dime.”

Another deep breath in.

And out.

Paul is the second person I know who has been hospitalized due to Covid.

The other — as regular readers of this blog may remember — is a fellow singer who ended up on a ventilator for many weeks and then spent time in rehab for weeks after that.

Both friends are now at home and gradually recovering their strength.

There but for the grace of g-d — along with a few face masks, a lot of physical/social distancing, and regular handwashing — go I…

And ANOTHER deep breath in.

And out.

Yesterday morning I picked up a bunch of postcards for me and two friends to personalize and then mail to potential voters in Georgia.

I loved riding my bike — and not burning any fossil fuels — while picking up and then delivering postcards to my friends.

Climate change is a WHOLE OTHER CRISIS which many of us — similar to the Covid-downplayers and non-mask-wearers during our current Covid crisis — are in denial about.

But that’s a topic for another blog post…

I definitely experienced — and was grateful for — my lungs as I pedaled up a bridge and over the commuter railroad tracks that separate Cambridge from Somerville.

I was also grateful that yesterday’s rain waited until I was home from my postcard pickup and deliveries to begin its gentle precipitation.

And I am grateful to share that a song I recorded many years ago — “Let Me Be Strong” by Barbara Baig — now has its own mini-website.

You can click here to check it out (and you may recognize the names of a few fellow bloggers on the feedback page, bless them…)

I met Barbara when I was organizing open mics at the Cambridge Center For Adult Education in Harvard Square, where I worked for 16 years,

As you may also remember from a recent blog post about how modestly streaming platforms currently pay recording artists and songwriters, it is unlikely that we will make much money from distributing “Let Me Be Strong.”

But we have gotten such positive feedback that we decided — as a kind of mitzvah — to create this mini-website and devote some energy to sharing her song with the rest of the world (or at least those people who have access to digital music platforms…)

The chorus of her song says:

“Let me be strong and moving through fear.

When the truth is blinding, let me see it clear.

And when love comes, let me not hide.

Let my heart be open, let love inside.”

Easier said (or sung) than done, I know — but potentially helpful words for the days and weeks and months ahead…

We have begun reaching out to radio DJs, nurses, doctors, yoga instructors, hospital chaplains, ministers, rabbis, and anyone else whom we think might appreciate hearing the song — and possibly sharing it with others.

We would be honored if YOU, too, are moved to share “Let Me Be Strong” with anyone in your web of family and friends.

You can use the share option by clicking on the upper right corner of this page of our mini-website if the spirit moves you.

We also welcome any ideas about other people, DJs, yoga instructors, nurses, doctors, rabbis, ministers, chaplains, etc. to whom we might reach out — one heart to another.

Clearly a lot of our hearts in the USA are quite frozen with fear (and rage) these days.

And music is one way that we can thaw out and begin to feel/heal…

Deep breath in.

And out.

Let’s all keep singing and dancing and listening to music whenever we can muster the time and energy and heart in the weeks ahead!

In addition to my lungs, I am grateful for pianist/producer Doug Hammer, with whom I recorded “Let Me Be Strong” along with Gene Roma (drums) and Chris Rathbun (bass).

I am grateful that my two friends are recovering from Covid-19.

I am grateful for Barbara Baig, who wrote this song.

I am grateful to Pixabay for their wonderful images.

And I am grateful to YOU for reading and listening to another one of my blog posts.

Thank you!

I hope you remain well — and well-masked AND well-rested — as viral and political turmoil continue to swirl through our lives.

May our Covid fatigue diminish…

Let us continue to hope for brighter, wiser, happier days ahead

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

And maybe a refreshing shake!

ps: You are always welcome to visit my website, and you can find me on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and other digital music platforms.


29 thoughts on “Let My Heart Be Open…

  1. Very poignant text. I wish that people would read and learn from it–you layout COVID fatigue very well. If some could open their eyes and minds or at least open their heart s in the do no harm school of thought.

    • Yes. “Do No Harm” is a terrific place to pause and discuss and reflect before taking any action. I often think about Native cultures, many of whom gather to discuss all of the different possible outcomes/ripples/repercussions of a possible plan before taking action. And then I contrast that with people like Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, whose (woefully misguided) mantra for many years was “Move Fast And Break Things.” THANK YOU for reading and listening and leaving a comment!

  2. Thank you Will for continuing to share your care, your wisdom, and your beautiful music. I love this song and your heartfelt singing. I have covid fatigue for some of the same reasons, and some different ones like believing there are nefarious origins and agendas at play. I also disagree that lockdowns and masks are appropriate or effective, but I play along for now. May we unite in care for each other and reclaim our lives and our power from the elite who currently rule the world.

  3. Thank you for listening (again), Brad, AND for leaving a comment AND for letting me use your enthusiastica feedback about “Let Me Be Strong” on our mini-website AND for playing along for now!!! Undoubtedly there are layers and layers of complexity/secrecy/diplomacy related to Covid-19, how it mutated and started infecting human beings, how different countries are responding to it, what our political leaders are saying about it publicly versus privately, who’s making a fortune from developing and distributing various vaccines (and other medical supplies/equipment), who’s making a fortune from insider stock trading, etc. etc. etc. But thinking about all of these layers can become overwhelming (and truly disheartening); so I mostly think about the staff at the hospitals and the people who are infected and their family/friends who are unable to be physically present with them in their time of need… Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Now back to my GA voter postcards!!!

  4. At my age (over 80) I am very aware that catching Covid could be fatal, so I take every precaution i can, though it’s impossible to avoid every possible risk. What makes my blood boil is that so much of the pain and dying didn’t have to happen, if we had had better, caring leadership….but I will stop here, because politicalization of this pandemic has made reasonable discourse all but futile.

    • Thank you for reading and listening and commenting! I agree that a lot of pain and dying didn’t need to happen. We needed wise leadership, and instead we got….golf? Now let us remain vigilant — and respectful of science — until the many promising vaccines can begin to improve our Covid-19 situation. Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

  5. The song and your beautiful rendition brings tears. This was a moving post, so many heartbreaking stories out there. My son just tested positive and has mild symptoms (so far), his girlfriend has had the lasting fatigue for months. I’m checking in with them anxiously every few days, as I continue to isolate in my own little world. Yes, breathe in and out. Be well, Will.

    • I breath in and out gratefully as I read about your son and his girlfriend. I hope he continues to experience mild symptoms AND that his girlfriend’s energy/health improves over time! She is another example of the significant ripples Covid leaves in its wake — ripples we will be dealing with for months and years to come. Thank you for reading and listening and then leaving a comment. I will continue to live a somewhat monk-like, Zoom-facilitated life for the next many months… May YOU remain healthy in your physical isolation, too!

  6. It’s been a long road and I can understand why people have Covid fatigue, I just hope they keep to the precautions. We had another lockdown here recently but it was so different to the first lockdown, things were almost as though nothing was wrong. A beautiful song and you set a great example in sharing it. I’ll give it a mention in my next blog post.

    • Thank you for reading and listening and then leaving a comment, Andrea. Sometimes the final miles of a long quest can be the most challenging. I DO hope that enough of us manage to remain respectful (of our own health as well as the health of others) and patient and diligent for a few more months… And Barbara and I welcome any mention you might be inspired to make in your next blog post.

  7. Awesome post….very heart warming and spot on. The bottom line is that we must stay vigilant and do the best we can to prevent exposure and to the point of your post, none of us can know how we would react if we did contract it. I have seen the mild cases to the extreme……so you just don’t know. Have a great week and may your holidays be filled with Peace and Joy!!

    • Thank you for reading and listening and commenting, Kirt! I agree that one of the reasons it has been challenging for some of us to appreciate and respect the threat/risk of Covid-19 is the range of infectious responses — from mild to lethal — we may have seen or been told about or experienced first-hand… I accept your wishes for a peaceful holyday season with open arms. May you and your family have a peaceful and grateful and joyful holyday season, too!

  8. What a beautiful song, what an amazing voice 💗. Thank you again Will, I will share this with my small zoom yoga session later today.

    • Sweet!!! If people like it, we would be very grateful if they add it to one of their playlists. THANK YOU for listening and reading to yet another blog post, Jane! I just heard from the TV in S’s office that California just confirmed their electoral college votes for Biden+Harris. That’s definitely a reason for a deep breath in. And a deep breath out!

    • Both of them seem to be healing well. One lives in the Philadelphia area and was very grateful for the care he got at the second hospital he visited with his worsening symptoms. The other lives in the Boston area and is slowly recuperating… My sweetheart and I are being very hermit-like with modest plans to Zoom with family in upcoming weeks. We are also lighting lots of candles in solidarity with Hanukkah (which I think may be ending tonight…) and the upcoming solstice. A healthy and peaceful and delicious holyday season to you and yours!

  9. Beautiful acknowledgement.
    Must comment, as a former nurse that Healthcare professionals have been suffering from severe trauma, and what a good friend, a hospital chaplain (and so much more), calls compassionate care fatigue, along with PTSD, myself included. Not for the reasons the general public would think, but because of what corporate Healthcare has does to the one time art of healing, humanity completely stripped from the process. If not anything else, perhaps Covid is bringing the reality of this to the forefront. People FINALLY have to be stopped in their tracks. Forced to take a look. Forced to look that the ‘human’ part of humanity was stripped away decades ago. The tide is changing!
    Namaste.

    • Hi, Denise: THANK YOU for reading and listening and then weighing in with another hugely important perspective on our current health crisis. As soon as things like health care and the fourth estate/investigative journalism and even music for that matter become corporatized, all sorts of precious values and principles start eroding… The whole idea of a corporation having legal rights similar to an actual human being — but without a human soul or a conscience — seems like a basic misstep in how we have organized ourselves as a global community. I truly hope a tide is changing, and I heartily echo your “Namaste!”

  10. You are right that there’s always something to be grateful for. During Covid, I’ve been trying to think up a different thing I’m grateful for every day to put on twitter, even small things, like sweet potatoes. Sometimes it’s hard to think of a new thing although every day one is grateful for some of the same things: to be alive and for sunshine and for things like coffee and granola.

    • Yes. I, too, am grateful for sweet potatoes (microwaved with butter!!!) And being alive. And sunshine powering life here on planet earth. And oatmeal (my version of granola) and ginger-turmeric tea (my version of coffee). And I am grateful for people who find time to read and listen to my blog posts!!!

  11. You’ve inspired me today. Thank you:). And as a healthy person who struggled with COVID before they even really knew it was here and what it entailed, my heart goes out to your friend. I’m applauding all who have made short-term sacrifices to engender our collective health. And I get tears in my eyes as I see pics of friends who are doctors, nurses, etc. get the vaccine. About damn time . . .

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