The Power of Outlets | Editor's Note
Last updated 3/19/2021 at 7:42am
While visiting Archbishop Murphy High School the week of March 11, I had a moment to reflect on a three-pronged concept that shapes the culture, per my observation: a commitment to the importance of outlets, health, and connection.
Outlets can be anything constructive, where you commit time for the sake of peace. It could be your own personal sense of peace, or the peaceful mindset of others. But I strongly believe anyone with an even mind and a warm heart probably has a regular practice in each of the following categories: movement, creation, reflection. Add a community connection to that and you have what is required to provoke more “worth-it” moments, and fewer dark ones.
In the pandemic, we have been cut off from outlets, or tossed into their hands. If at one time you were a gym rat, you were abruptly unable to do that for what likely seemed like a very long time. An artist: your outlet was encouraged by state directives, with Gov. Jay Inslee immediately naming artists as essential in the pandemic about a year ago. But singing and dancing and teaching yoga in front of a glowing screen are kind of not the same energy. A spiritual seeker: if your Zen connection to a peaceful heart is the meditative and solo, you were set. If you need a group setting with holy water and a crowd, your familiar surroundings to feed the peacefulness in your heart were revoked.
At Archbishop Murphy, students were encouraged through the pandemic to keep going, in numerous ways that are intentionally helpful. Connection there is part of the culture, with each director I ran into on my recent tour stating that people need to feel included, even when remote. Need to know they are still a part of something that is not just individual parts, separate and alone in respective rooms, tapping away at a glowing screen. Need to know they are connecting.
Movement connects people to the body. Creation connects people to the mental leaps that feed problem-solving. Reflection connects people to clarity, healing, and hope.
In a past feature story in The Mill Creek Beacon, Amelia Ebling, a Glacier Peak High School senior and an accomplished artist, was profiled for her drawings. One was an owl, and to me that implied darkness; a visual reminder of what exists in the world, and what we all need to be aware of in ourselves and others. That darkness is an element that the best in us, and the best of us, can overcome.
Community connection is just a bigger version of a family, and a bubble of close friends. In all of the most healing spiritual practices, it is fostered through honesty and support, and a commitment to problem-solving.
Note that community connection where it happens, and give it your rapt attention. We can all learn from this pandemic, and we can all either embrace and respect our long-term outlets, or seek out the ones that help us better serve ourselves and others.
The road ahead depends on it, and the time to mimic the cultures that honor the importance of outlets and connection, and begin a daily practice toward better days, is now.