Let’s Talk … About thriving in the pandemic, Part 2


We have many things to look forward to in 2021, a kind of U-turn, but on a different plane of living. The “new normal” will forever be inflected by this harrowing epidemic, unprecedented political instability and the raw social injustice brought to the heart of 2020. Like the lumbering ox that represents the Chinese zodiac sign for 2021, we have much work to do, but it will be inspired by hope rather than fear. Happy New Year!

In my last column I invited people to share ways in which they have been moving beyond just “coping” during COVID Time, to “thriving” as they identify and act on their “life purpose.” The response from my mostly Nikkei readers was so overwhelming, my computer just about exploded! Ah…juuuuust kidding. But gratefully, I did receive some very thoughtful and inspiring stories of how people were not only making the best of their COVID Time, but identifying and clarifying for themselves their life purpose.

One man had decided to remodel his bathroom, though he had limited knowledge and skill, he dove into it and was confronted with problem after problem. But he didn’t give up. He turned to YouTube every day until he solved each problem. He pushed through the frustration and came to the realization that his life purpose was not to become an expert bathroom builder, but instead, he got in touch with how much meaning he has in his life making his wife happy.

Another person said she had no idea what her life purpose was except to do what was expected of her, not just during COVID, but from the time she was a child. She never thought of herself as “depressed,” but realized that it might be a possibility because she felt so aimless and even empty during this time. So she’s decided to talk to others, maybe even a therapist, to explore what it is that would bring her a true feeling of purpose and fulfillment. She’s begun her journey.

The final one I will share comes from a woman who wrote, “I have discovered recently after these many months of COVID-19, that my purpose is to be authentic. In spite of being in the ‘maintenance’ mode of dealing with pandemic-life as it is today, I have had several deep life-fulfilling experiences which have brought more meaning to my life.” It had always been difficult for her to share with others that she had been a child of the World War II Japanese American incarceration. Reluctant to speak publicly about her childhood experience, she finally agreed to speak on a Zoom event where she grappled with her courage, shed her shame, and literally “came out” with a sense of pride. The outcome she shared was so moving, I hope it will inspire readers with optimism and possibility. She closed her e-mail by saying, “I have a sense of freedom to be able to come out of the shadows of who I am. I could say then that this release has resulted in a happiness. Happiness to release the unjustified coat of shame that I have worn for all these years. I’m willing to take off this worn and ragged piece of apparel so that my aliveness may shine through. My life purpose is to honor the Truth of who I am so that I may lead others to do the same for themselves.”

Thank you to all who shared and inspired us to use this time to thrive!

May you be consoled with love for your loss, surrounded (via Zoom) by those you love, grow in your authenticity, and wait patiently in line for your vaccination. Happy New Year! Ganbatte ne!

Satsuki Ina, Ph.D. is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in intergenerational trauma. She can be reached at satsukina44@gmail.com. She is also a filmmaker (“Children of the Camps” — www.children-of-the-camps.org and “From a Silk Cocoon: A Japanese American Renunciation Story” — www.fromasilkcocoon.com). The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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