A Light In the Darkness

When COPD Navigator first started, we had no logo. We didn’t really need one; we were a humble Facebook group. No website, no page, no YouTube, just a group of people getting together to work through various aspects of COPD. Eventually, we put together some printouts and such, and needed to have some kind of “branding” to be easier to find.

The first iteration of the logo was a basic cartoon of a metered dose inhaler over a compass rose. Navigation, right? Plus, meds are pretty much always the first line therapy in COPD, as well as most other breathing problems. It wasn’t anything fancy, because we still didn’t really need it to be. I didn’t give it much thought after putting it together, because it seemed to be doing the job.

While the group continued to grow by fits and starts, one of our earliest Navigators pointed something out that, in retrospect, should have been obvious from the start. As much as we preach things like exercise & good nutrition & stress management & everything else, why should the logo focus on meds? Yes, they’re still the first thing that gets used, but as my dear friend Dr. Jean Rommes says, “the meds help me exercise, but the exercise helps me live.” So, after putting some more thought into how to better represent trying to get people breathing easier, I shifted things over to the lighthouse motif we use these days. Also a beacon of navigation, trying to show people the right path, shining a light on an problem often hidden in darkness.

I’ve been thinking about that lighthouse a lot lately. These are pretty dark times for, well, pretty much everyone. I’ve been working through how this pandemic has affected me in frankly surprising ways over the last few weeks. I fortunately haven’t lost any one I know (thus far) to the bug, but it has still taken a lot of intangibles from me. Confidence in institutions, who now seem hopelessly compromised. Believe in colleagues, who steadfastly refuse to accept even the possibility science may overrule “gut feeling” despite their training. Sometimes, even faith in humanity itself.

But every now and then, there are beacons of hope. Even better, sometimes I get to be that beacon. I get to do things that still make me feel like I’m making a difference. I get to offer a comfortable, convenient space for people to be social. I get to teach. I get to help people breathe a little easier, or at least offer some bits of solace.

I know there are a lot of people who are in the same boat I’m in. There are those who are staring this thing in the face every day. There are those who continue to be isolated and frustrated. There are those like me who wonder if there’s more we should be doing, or if we’re doing the right thing by keeping our focus where it’s been & hopefully covering gaps. Regardless of our venue, it feels hopeless & overwhelming, that there’s nothing more that we can do.

In these times, it’s important to remember that while your ability to turn tides may be limited, there is still something you can do. Be someone’s light. Be their beacon of hope. Recognizing that one can’t pour from an empty cup, it doesn’t have to be a big production. Return a shopping cart, post a meme, say an extra “thank you.” Hold on to that feeling and you get through another day, when the light will come back to you.