Remember when we thought the quarantine would last a month or two? Remember when we passed day 40 and we (by we, I mean me) waxed poetic about traipsing through the quarantine desert for 40 days and 40 nights…wondering when our deliverance would come?
How precious. What dear, innocent hearts we had back when we thought life would be back to normal by summer vacation and we could all go to Disneyland to celebrate our endurance. Bless our sweet hearts for thinking that a regular vacation was even possible. Back in March, I texted my cousin to say when this is all over we are going to Dollywood! And I said it with conviction in my heart that we would be visiting the promise land of big hair and big boobs by August.
Bless. My. Heart.
Last night as I feel asleep I turned to dear Husband and asked how his quarantine was going. We joked a bit about how we haven’t had a date night since before spring break. He in turned asked me how my quarantine was going. I told him that I was afraid that the ski trip we have planned for the end of the year will be derailed. He comforted my by saying not to worry about the end of the year. We have the first week of August of worry about when he has students coming to visit the University and he will have to have dinner with people other than the four of us. Then we can worry about the start of school and how putting the boys into a hot pot of Covid-stew will effect our household, friends, and family. Next we will get to worry about the October fundraiser I’m in charge of and how we will raise the big bucks without a big event. After that we can face the fear of the holidays.
In other words, why worry about tomorrow when we have enough to worry about today?
A little perspective helps as we power our way to the top of the Covid stats.
Recently, a friend shared a wonderful post on
the devil’s playground Facebook that gave me a little perspective about what we have been facing as a society. In a nutshell; imagine a person born in 1900. By the age of 80 that person would have lived through a global pandemic that killed over a million people world wide. They would have lived through the Great Depression that saw unemployment as high as 24% which was book ended by two world wars and the Holocaust that murdered 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews. They would have lived through the Korean war and the Vietnam war. They would have been witness to the Civil Rights Movement and the New Jim Crow era.
That is a lot of suffering in just one life time and that’s just the highlights.
When you think of it in terms of a lifetime, what we have experienced in 2020 is not as overwhelming. However, all of that stress and crises listed above is spread out over a lifetime punctuated by the rest, normalcy, and joy that accompanies a standard lifetime.
In comparison 2020 has been jam packed. Let’s recap some of the highlights real quick: the entire continent of Australia was on fire. Tiger King. The president was impeached and then acquitted. The Brits finally left the EU and seemed to immediately regret it. Biden became the Democratic nominee and Bernie quietly slunk away. It’s a presidential election year (which is a category all unto itself). Unemployment hit it’s highest level since the Great Depression. Murder hornets (whatever happened to those guys?). Nationwide protests in defiance of police brutality which turned into white people everywhere looking around and saying oh snap…black people everywhere have been kept down and racism is alive and well despite us thinking everything was fine because of the end of slavery and Civil Rights. Middle aged women throwing temper tantrums in public and feeling entitled to do so.
One insane event after another brewing inside the sweat box of Covid-19 and the year isn’t over.
I feel like I just wrote a really dark and twisted Shel Silverstein poem…but this one has come to life.
It does help to take a step back and realize that what we’re experiencing isn’t new. There are many economic, political, and health crisis similarities but what’s different is that the events of a life time have been compressed down into a year. We are marinating in an intense concoction fear and anxiety but we weren’t meant to experience this much stress all at once as a society.
When super stressful situations hit us as a group in singular occurrences (hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, etc) we are able to rally together and support those who need help most. But when we are faced with a new tragedy every week we no longer know who needs help the most. Every where we look a new emergency arises, another group of people demand attention, a new injustice is revealed and our capacity for compassion is pushed into the danger zone of apathy. Our resources and patience become stretched too thin and soon our ability to see a sister or brother in need turns into an enemy stealing our piece of the pie or infringing on some twisted version of a personal freedom.
When I was a child at summer camp I was taught the “I’m Third” rule. God first, others second, yourself last. It was a way to live a happy life in unity with God and neighbor.
In 2020 the rule seems to be “I’m First”. There is no second or third option to this way of life because personal needs, wants, safety, and desires trump all else no matter the cost. I think the “I’m First” mentality is a result of the fear marinade we have found ourselves in wondering what the next catastrophe will be.
So how do we pull ourselves out of the fear marinade? I wish I had an answer but for now I can only offer two suggestions. 1) turn off Facebook and Twitter. 2) Start asking yourself how you can put others ahead of yourself. Anything more than that might be too much to ask in 2020.