I was recently asked in a round-about way if I thought my making face masks was really of help. After all, “medical professionals can’t use home-made masks,” I was told. Coincidentally, and unbeknownst to the questioner, I had that morning shipped 35 masks off to a (human) hospital and 10 to a veterinary hospital. I informed my friend of these shipments and said; “but I get it, these aren’t replacements, they aren’t as good a the N95s. I have done the research; and, I’ve also done the research to develop the best filtering I can accomplish with what resources are available to me. In some cases this means providing pockets in the masks (for HEPA filters to be inserted); but always I use fabrics that research studies have found to be the better filters.”
Having explained that this wasn’t just me getting crafty or being an un-informed-do-gooder, I paused. After a moment of watching their face in the silence, I heard what they really wanted to say, “Well, I just don’t want you to make all of these and put time and energy into them and then they aren’t used and you feel bad and that it was all a waste of time.” Ah, they’re challenge was about compassion for me. I let another pause go on while I took in what they were saying, then began, “Well, I am grateful to have been able to send some off today; but too I have to say I’d be completely thrilled if emergency measures were taken requiring manufacturers to make masks and I’d be left with a hundred that I’ve just made because they would no longer be needed.”
I don’t make masks because I think it’ll save anyone’s life. If home-made masks help, that is great. If that’s all we have, well, that’s a shame really. But the result of my making masks is not why I make them – simply because I don’t have control of outcomes. Ever. However, the number of needed effective masks simply is not being met. So, I am helping to provide a humble stand-in. More than that though, I am creating an energy with the thousands of other people sewing masks. We are creating an energy of MASKS AVAILABLE. A flow of masks being made available. This, I believe is far better than sitting in the void of absent masks and crying for lack of fulfilled needs. Life teaches me repeatedly that when resources are scarce, focusing on scarcity does not bring abundance. So, I make masks perhaps more in the hope that they will not be needed, not so much because they are needed.
Also, making the masks, like making my prayer flags, teaches me (with each mask as with each flag) to respond to chaos and the human condition with Compassion, Love, Patience, Perseverance, or Presence (names of just a few of the flags that still teach me to this day). So, nope, the masks are not made to save anyone, though they may help in some way. I will never know. What I do know is this – sometimes we all find ourselves in the very center of scarcity (of all kinds) and life and love have taught me that the void is where creation began and continues to begin.