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By Abe Villarreal 

Maybe we were moving too fast. We were in such a hurry that we forgot to pay attention to the things in life we know are the most important. Our health, our family, the quiet moments. They were on the back burner for too long. Making money, working, being in the office. We had a little too much of these kinds of things.

And now, life seems a little upside down. We’re told to slow down, to stay inside. We should only be around those that we love the most, and stay away from others, at least for now. It makes us uncomfortable to be told what to do. We are Americans and we are free. We say it all the time as a way of telling ourselves that we are different, but today no matter where you live or where you come from, somehow, we are all the same.

Maybe it’s Earth, or maybe it’s God, but someone or something is telling us to center ourselves, to get life back in balance. We were going too far in one direction, looking at only where we wanted to go. We ignored others that sounded different or told us things we didn’t’ want to hear. Now, we are all hearing the same thing.

What is happening to our world is bigger than us, bigger than our small communities, and bigger than the identity that binds us people of one country. The dreams of young people are bigger, but they seem on hold. The fears of older people are bigger and more real today.

During this time of separation, we are realizing who we are in ways that are eye opening. As we feel panicked and afraid, we see each other acting like the kinds of people we used to criticize. We do things that make us strangers to each other. We point fingers and assign blame. America the free is not America the different anymore.

Maybe our life was a giant curve that needed flattening. Those at the top are coming to the bottom. They are hearing things from those at the bottom that hadn’t been heard before. This is a good thing.
And then there are times that you go to buy groceries or log on to social media and you see all the things that make you feel proud to be a member of your community, and your country. People helping people in need. The little restaurant you used to go to each week is now giving out free lunch meals to kids. They can’t afford to do it, but they do it.

Teachers reach out to parents. Doctors work day to night. These things make us feel good during times of uncertainty.

One day, maybe soon, we’ll be back to having coffee with old friends at diners. We’ll enjoy lunch meetings at outdoor cafés with co-workers. We’ll be back to working too much and moving too fast. We will be focused too narrowly and forgetting what at this moment we hold dear.

So, let’s remember what we are thinking and feeling about ourselves, why it’s important and what we are learning during this time of uncertainty. One day, we will want to remind ourselves of this moment and why it mattered.

Abe Villarreal writes about life and culture in southern New Mexico. He can be reached at abevillarreal@hotmail.com.

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