Leftovers: Open a window of kindness

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Summer is unofficially here and the weather that reminds us why we live in Maine is within grasp. Between now and the Fourth of July is our sweet spot to love Portland extra hard before being outnumbered by tourists. 

So, we all have a window.

But before I can raise the blind and throw my window wide open, I need to push away all the sorrow and sadness that resembles a Kansas twister instead of calm Maine seas.

Natalie LaddThat is not to say I’ll stick my head in the sand and ignore the world, but out of concern for my already teeter-tottering mental health, I need to compartmentalize. Maybe in a common-sensical way, I can help others do so.

Guns

If you need to talk to a Little about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas (and the other 26 school shootings so far in 2022), check out the May 25 piece “An Age-by-Age Guide to Talking to Children About Mass Shootings,” by Catherine Pearson in The New York Times. I found it useful (and the Times will give you five free articles if you aren’t a subscriber).

Maine is reportedly the fourth safest state in the U.S., so it is interesting to note that a third of all homes in Maine have guns. The key demographics (rural locations, older white male population, hunting mecca) hint as to why, and I find this somehow comforting. We also have  “yellow light” gun control regulations in place and might just be role models for other states. So, my window is cracking a tiny bit. At least right now. 

COVID-19

What can I say that will mute the voice in the back of our minds asking if we need a mask, if we should go out, if the spikes and CDC reports are accurate, if we need yet another booster, etc., etc.? Aside from the fact that COVID-19 is another killer, embarrassingly we have all grown tired of it.

Most of the best, non-redundant advice about how to cope with pandemic burnout shows even the experts are over it. Sadly, those who have lost someone among our 1 million-plus who have died from the disease are nowhere near over it. 

Because it will change before this column reaches the press, I won’t get into where Maine’s disease activity fares compared with other states. But I will say (and you all know this) we can move on. Reality changes all the time and COVID-19 and its variants are part of our new reality. Staying on top of your own safety and the safety of others is the only way we can crack the window a tad more. 

Domestic abuse

I’m having trouble thinking of Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) as an abuser but Queen Mera from DC’s “Aquaman” (Amber Heard), should be taken at face value no matter how much of a dolt she appears to be in court.

While their divorce-and-lawsuits drama has become “entertainment” it is deeply unsettling and undermines the seriousness of domestic abuse. The trial has become a liability, almost making domestic abuse seem cool. 

The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence posts staggering numbers but also offers more resources than I knew existed. This is one of those times when help can’t be accessed unless the abused party reaches out. If you know of someone, help them open the window if the crank is too hard to turn on their own. There are ways for all of us to be advocates here. 

Etc.

Other pressing issues keep us spinning.

Personally, I worry about student loan debt and the real estate market when it comes to my children, pesky health issues and fleeting time when it comes to myself.

Collectively, I obsess over Ukraine, world hunger, peace in the Middle East, baby formula, equality for all, freedom of choice, democracy, gas prices, and the toll it takes on all of us to push our metaphorical windows open. 

My dear friend, #neverthatkaren, says all we can do is be kind. She uses the example of exchanging pleasantries with a barista to help her mind move past Uvalde, even if just for a few minutes. After all, she is the grandmother of elementary school children here in Maine. 

Being kind is a theme I’ve embraced in many columns and I’m sticking to it. It helps move us on a parallel path alongside the debris and wreckage so we can raise the blinds.

Natalie Ladd is an award-winning columnist, freelance writer, and Portland restaurant veteran. She loves Boston sports, California cabernets, and has never sampled a cheese she didn’t like. Reach her at [email protected]nix.me.