The days and times of our lives become vividly more precious when we are confronted with a fatal illness. Our ALS families have taught me that. Everyone reacts to the trauma of an ALS diagnosis in different ways, but unconsciously or consciously we understand one thing clearly: time is precious.
Knowing this encourages us to make clear choices about how we spend our time, and keeps us focused on what is fruitful and has meaning. For my friends with ALS, this often means making time for long postponed activities or relationships that may need tending or cultivating. The COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of understanding the importance of the moment and making time count.
Dozens of families have called me this summer disappointed that they have had to cancel their fundraisers in support of our work, everything from golf tournaments to beer tasting festivals. Even our largest annual fundraiser, the Falmouth Road Race, had to go virtual resulting in greatly reduced participation and funds raised for CCALS. The pandemic also meant cancelling our biennial Gala. We are so lucky that our generous donors recognized our situation and stepped up with the funding to make it possible to continue our work with the more than 660 families who rely on our services.
The pandemic changed everyone’s lives, and very quickly. No dining out. No travel. No sporting events or theater. It limited the activities that make up the fabric of life. For CCALS, the shutdown meant no in-home visits. We usually visit our families where they are most comfortable, we get to know them in their own homes. Our learning curve had to be swift as we transitioned to virtual overnight. I’m proud of our staff for adapting, getting savvy with the technology, and putting into place our services through whatever means were available to us. We are grateful to have been able to start home visits again, under strict safety protocols.
I encourage everyone to greet the challenge of these pandemic times. Yes, we are unable to engage in most of the social activities we have relied on for connection. I find if you look deeply satisfaction comes from our ability to achieve inner peace, no matter what is happening around us. This is why I am always an advocate of contemplative practice and self-inquiry into who we are fundamentally. One of the most important matters is knowing how to live our lives aware that the time we have is finite.
I invite you to truly self-reflect during these times, my friends. Find your deep heart and soul. Reach down inside and touch the depth of your being. Learn what is that makes you achieve inner peace and brings you joy in the most challenging of times.