Our Daily Breather: Maintaining Sanity During A Pandemic In Our Daily Breather, we ask artists to recommend ways to find calm in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Ella O'Connor Williams, aka Squirrel Flower, is imagining a more just future.
NPR logo Squirrel Flower On Managing Anxiety By Imagining A Better Future

Squirrel Flower On Managing Anxiety By Imagining A Better Future

Ella O'Connor Williams records and performs as Squirrel Flower. Ally Schmaling/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Ally Schmaling/Courtesy of the artist

Ella O'Connor Williams records and performs as Squirrel Flower.

Ally Schmaling/Courtesy of the artist

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Ella O'Connor Williams, aka Squirrel Flower
Where: Arlington, Mass.
Recommendation: Imagining a better future


This crisis feels like a collective nightmare, something the past decade of zombie movies and climate change books has been alluding to. What makes it specifically challenging and anxiety-provoking for me is the unreliability of the future, but with ambiguity and the specter of apocalypse comes the need and the freedom to rebuild.

For me, self-care goes beyond consumption and relaxation. Over the past two months I have found moments of emotional peace and healing through imagining a future beyond the present. This task means supporting those who are more deeply affected by COVID-19 and its economic fallout than I am. Supporting mutual aid funds, offering resources to neighbors, reaching out to friends who may need help; these are all tangible things that are not just making me feel more grounded but are allowing me to manifest, even minutely, what a more just society might look like. This, for me, is self-care; I am able to get out of my shell of anxiety by understanding my individual role in collective action.

In what feels like a dystopic time, distributing resources and imagining futures completely different from the present or even the recent past is bringing me peace of mind and helping me to get through. So, take moments amidst the anxiety and uncertainty to imagine your utopia. What does it look like?


Ella O'Connor Williams records as Squirrel Flower. Her debut album, I Was Born Swimming, was released in January. Her latest release is the single Take It or Leave It / So Hot You're Hurting My Feelings.

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