Three A’s for Now
Awareness, Acknowledge, Action
When I was a nurse in a university medical intensive care unit, a large percentage of patients died, or at least it seemed. My memories of those times, our patients, and the team of brilliantly skillful nurses are colorful and vivid to this day. I remember the young man dying of AIDS during the advent of the disease. I remember his full name, his face, the feeling of gowning up and going into his room. I remember the nurse who chose to be his primary caretaker in the unit. I remember a patient who we kept sedated and medically paralyzed in order for him to recover from tetanus. He walked into our unit months later recovered; a tall smiling man who I instantly recognized, never before seeing him conscious or upright. He was so grateful to all of us. I remember many more moments. I remember my comrades, those super smart, adept RNs who were dogged, tenacious, and present in their moment to moment hands on care. I remember Donna who shared her crackers with me when we were not able to leave the patient’s bedside. I remember the sounds of the ventilators, all the equipment. I remember the magical spirit and effect of teamwork. So last night I cried when reading an article about a nurse in the Bronx, caring for ICU patients during this pandemic. I cried out of empathy, and grief our world is experiencing. This morning I danced to George Harrison’s iconic album All Things Must Pass.
My Three A’s for Now are related to my experience, that I am labeling as empathy; empathy as related to compassion; compassion for self, others’ suffering. Empathy helps us connect with our humanity, our fellow human beings in this predictably unpredictable human life. Empathy is an emotional state to become AWARE of, so that we can ACKNOWLEDGE what we are feeling, and as yoga philosophy says, take right ACTION.
Who are you called to be right now, in this moment? How will you acknowledge and gain awareness of what you are experiencing, whether it be sadness, confusion, joy, anger, comfort, laughter, tears, love? We can only change or shift what we are aware of. Mindfulness, paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, body is acknowledgement…because we are already feeling all those things. Why not note them and take action? Action could be taking a breath. Keep it simple. Look deep into what and who really matters to you, what your strengths are, what you know is good and true about yourself. We are a human circle. We all need each other. We are resilient.