OPINION: Finding joy in others and the journey
Duane Gines | Guest Writer
It is terrible to curse the darkness unless you are prepared to light a candle. That is not an exact quote, but a wonderful reminder of the importance of light in a situation that has been dark too long. I recently spent a few weeks in Peru to discover how the light has returned after more than two and a half years of fear and darkness due to the pandemic. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy once again the warmth of the Peruvian culture and its people. The light had returned, and a sense of hope and normalcy was being restored.
In 2020, I was in Peru with a group of friends when the government shut down all travel, not just outside the country but inside as well. At the time, it was illegal to even travel from one town to another, and curfews and mask mandates were in effect throughout the country. The airports and the borders were closed, and fear of the pandemic was omnipresent. But COVID-19 was already in the country, so they shut the door with the enemy inside. Peru fared no better than countries that didn’t implement extreme shutdown measures, and the intense fear generated probably made things worse.
At that time, leaving Peru was problematic, and we were surprised that the US and other countries started offering repatriation flights to their citizens. As a result, our group was able to return home just a few weeks after the total shutdown of travel within Peru. It was like one of the plagues in Egypt, and Moses came along and parted the Red Sea. I was relieved to be back with family and friends as the pandemic marched on.
In Peru, villages fared better than the cities because they were mostly self-sufficient, without the need for government assistance (which for many turned out to be more of a nuisance than a help). I don’t intend to argue for or against the pandemic being over or the effectiveness of vaccines in dealing with it. Still, many would agree that it was a wake-up call to do the things that matter most and leave the unnecessary undone.
It reconfirmed my belief that people are resilient and can confront the hardships and challenges of life and still find joy in the journey. Many families were strengthened and became more united during this crisis. I experienced a greater appreciation for family and friends than before the pandemic. The focus has become more of a matter of finding joy in the journey and helping others find joy.
I like a quote that expresses my hopes for the future. A favorite writer, Eknath Easwaran, said, “We all need joy in our lives. But to have joy in our lives, we must bring joy to others. There is no other way.” I believe that working together for the welfare of others is one of the most important things we can do, whether in times of crisis or relative calm.
Easwaran also reminds us, “Disaster befalls us seldom. Worry depletes us often.” It is good to prepare for disasters that do not happen often but to be wise enough not to allow worry to deplete us in our journey!