RULES, RULES, RULES.
We’re told when to wear a mask. How many people we can celebrate with. How fast we can drive. Where we can buy alcohol and cannabis. How long we can park before we get a ticket. So many rules.
There’s no rule making us feel hope when the days are getting longer. Or to wish each other a Happy New Year.
There’s no rule for holding open a door, letting a car merge in front of us, waving at the engineer of a passing train.
There is no rule that makes us smile and wave our hand gently when we see a baby. We just all do it.
There’s no rule that makes a child skip as they walk down the sidewalk. That’s just what they do.
No one sent us a letter telling us to put up Christmas lights to make the neighborhood brighter, but there they are, twinkling against the snow every evening.
Over and over again, the COVID rules we have to deal with keep changing. From whether we can go to a sports game, eat at a restaurant, gather with friends, worship with others, or go shopping. It’s wearing to know what we can and cannot do.
Which is why it is so reassuring that, without any rules, people all over the city are collecting goods and distributing hampers to those that need. Without any rules, people are gathering up toques, mitts and scarfs, and putting them places where others can find them. There’s no rule telling people to enjoy the snow, with skiing, snowshoeing and outdoor skating.
Rules can be daunting, and discouraging. Since COVID, they’ve changed and changed again. I’ve lost track of what they all are, except to keep a mask handy in my pocket, and my bubble small.
Maybe you’re like me. Frustrations have been mounting. Poor snow clearing by the City. Delayed and cancelled flights by the airlines. Hours on hold with telephone company. Made more frustrating with the added COVID restrictions.
COVID rules can be daunting. But they haven’t put a dint our most important rules of all.
Despite the ever changing COVID rules, we still say a little thanks at the winter solstice that the light is returning. When we’re out for a walk, as we pass each other, even strangers, we wish each other a “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas.” We exchange small gifts of remembrance. We find joy in time spent with others, face-to-face or by Zoom. We find ways to make life a little easier for others.
COVID has taken such a toll. Our community has suffered great losses of loved ones from COVID. It hit home again this week with a well known community member dying of COVID. So now more than ever, the COVID rules matter. COVID rules protect us from a virus.
But just as importantly, the rules we live by, of kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness, matter even more.
Of course COVID rules, in the end, are acts of kindness too. Just another way we care for each other.
Over the holiday season, I wish you time with friends and family, however you can gather. I hope small kindnesses come your way, and that you pass them on to others as well. The best of the new year as well.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.