Sunday, March 29, 2020

Something we have to do

I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
But it's all right, it's all right
For we've lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road 

We're traveling on
I wonder what's gone wrong
I can't help but wonder what's gone wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
High up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea

Paul Simon—American Tune
I remember walking into the office on Nov. 9, 2016. The first person I saw was barely holding it together in her cube, so I stopped to say something encouraging.

And...I couldn't think of a thing worth saying.

So we we just hugged, and she started sobbing. I felt like doing the same.

In those few seconds, I had a moment of lucidity. "The world is going to need a lot of brave people now. You can do that. We can do that."

After a while longer we both took a deep breath and went about our day.
Three and a half years later, there have been too many days like that. Too many instances of contempt and disbelief and disgust. And that was before the start of the pandemic now immolating most of the world.

Globally (but most egregiously in the US), the disease has been like a wildfire that's zero percent contained because the firefighters can't see the flames. Why "most egregiously"? Because the person who's nominally in charge of the US response spews gasoline everywhere, every day.
The sense of loss is pervasive. Some are small and inconsequential. Others are overwhelming and permanent. But they're all valid, and cumulative, and exhausting.

It's taken a toll on some of the strongest people I know. I hear from friends and acquaintances that it's now normal to sob and then laugh out loud in the space of a couple minutes. To shake from despair and then low-key rage.

Some people will be at their best during the next few weeks, as the crisis builds to a peak. Many will be at their worst. Every day will present new opportunities for us to decide which we'll be.

It's going to be intense and difficult. All of us will be stressed in ways we can't predict and would not have imagined. People we know will lose their livelihood. People we know (or know of) will lose their lives.

We owe it to them, and to each other, to do the best we can in the moment. To help when we're able, and to keep moving forward.

Take a deep breath, friend. This is just...something we have to do now.

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