How are you doing?

After the global dumpster fire that was 2020, it would have been kind of nice to get through the first month of the new year without an uptick in pandemic deaths, a full-out assault upon our democracy and a crashing economy to say nothing of the weather disasters in the nation.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

But, to quote the great J.R.R. Tolkien in his famous trilogy, “”I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’”

Yes, that’s right, I went there.

The undeniable geekiness of quoting Tolkien aside, the point stands: What do we do with the time that is given to us?

Out in Los Angeles, celebrity chef Brooke Williamson was feeling the hit from the pandemic. Her restaurant Playa Provisions, famous as it is, was suffering. And then, a strange order came in. The order was for a breakfast, but the person placing the order added that they would not be picking it up since they lived in Texas. They said they simply wanted to do their small part in supporting a place they loved, and they hoped the restaurant would give the food to whoever needed it.

Moved, Williamson posted an image of the order online. Within minutes, the next “give it away” order came in, then the next. Soon, they had almost 250 orders from people “from away” for meals to be given to others. And it gets better.

Turns out, the initial order came from a teacher who, like so many teachers, needed supplies for her classroom. Some kind human out there had connected the dots and paid for her entire wish list. Wow.

In the hours following the violent assault upon our nation’s capitol, Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey did something rather extraordinary: he got to work. Yes, he stayed at his post for the vote to confirm Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election, but he also got busy cleaning up. Literally.

Water bottles, trash, broken flags, cigarette butts, lost keys, discarded body armor – there was a lot of junk left behind by the mob. Where some might have just shaken their heads in dismay, Kim grabbed a trash bag, knelt on the floor and started picking up the trash. He was there until 3 a.m. “This was probably the worst condition that room has ever been in. It broke my heart,” he said. “I almost started crying.”

Clean-up duty is not his job but in that moment, it was his calling.

Right here in Maine, a high school junior and proud Girl Scout from Lamoine is making face masks to combat the pandemic. With some instruction and guidance from her mom, she has now made nearly 6,000 masks.

Initially, the masks were donated to places in need, including local hospitals. Now, she is expanding her focus and her masks are up for sale, with the funds being used to build housing for female veterans. Layer upon layer of helping.

So I ask again, how are you doing? These are tough times. We are all sad; we are all stressed. It is increasingly important to pause, reflect and gather yourself. Step away from the doom-scroll to witness the acts of kindness all around us. Consider what to do with the time that is given to us. It is possible that how we are doing is a reflection of what we are doing.

Be well. Do well.

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