(As I write this I’m listening to Patti Griffin sing “When It Don’t Come Easy.” It’s a sobering and simultaneously inspirational song full of dark reality and hope. For me, it’s a song for this moment, check it out if you can.)
As of today April 8th, the US has reached over 400,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and set an unwelcome record of 1,850 deaths in one day as of yesterday. We still have dark days ahead. Many will be infected, many will have infection confirmed, many will get sick – some gravely so, some will die. In a short amount of time, it is likely all of us will know someone with a confirmed case, or someone showing symptoms. Many of us may know someone who succumbs to the illness.
Human memory is a wonderful power, but it has an uncanny way of forgetting what life was like before a large-scale event strikes such as a pandemic. That is why it is so important to remember, to actively remember what life was about, and what life will be about yet again – to tap into our resilience reserves.
The curious thing about resilience is it impacts both in its presence and its absence. When absent we see a breakdown of civility, decency and care for our fellow human. Sometimes, this absence leads to attacks on others who seem different, rise of hate ideology, and even violence. We are seeing this worldwide against various groups.
Resilience when present allows us to navigate the pains and challenges of life, to strive forward and find a way through the darkness – darkness which is almost always temporary, and which almost always has a human solution. It allows us to find that strength, balance and rationale decision-making that is needed to find a pathway through and beyond.
Resilience is easily found in the super-human stories of courage and survival, such as the story of Louis Zamperini in Laura Hillenbrand’s book “Unbroken”, and certainly our front-line emergency and healthcare workers putting themselves in harm’s way to save lives everyday. Those are incredible examples of resilience and heroism, but often difficult to “touch” from those of us not living in those “worlds”. Often in those extreme life conditions we show resilience, press on, or we die – or in the case of healthcare workers if they do not press on, others die. Not easy, but the choice is more clear cut.
Yet, resilience also appears when we have the choice to stop thriving and just exist, but we choose to shine on anyway, in the day-to-day of “getting on” with our lives, doing the work, loving as we love, supporting where and when we can.
For me, resilience is best captured in this picture from September 14, 1940, London England, when WWII or this bombed out church in England did not stop the marriage of Fusilier Tom Dowling to Miss Martha Coonig. For me this picture captures what we must do, we must remember the days before and must conjure up in our mind the days to come, and keep those connected, and do this all amidst the crisis we weather together.
So, yes it seems we have some dark days to come . . . And yet . . .
. . . the trees will bloom, and birds will make their Spring nests, and trout will rise to a floating dry-fly on a tight line with no concern for a virus, as it should be.
. . . babies will continue to be made, and birthed, and swaddled, and held and marinated in love as if nothing else is occurring in the world, as it should be.
. . . those in love, young and old, at the beginning or end of their paths together, will continue to love in the myriad of tiny dramas immortalized by Shakespeare, and Donne, and Rumi, as it should be.
. . . somewhere a young boy will hit his first home-run, circling the bases carefree as if nothing else in the world matters, as it should be.
. . . somewhere a young girl will look behind her on her bike expecting to see her father holding her up, only to learn she is riding solo, and she will laugh with glee, as it should be.
. . . somewhere a young boy and girl will share their first kiss, and as James Taylor sings in Copperline, “First kiss ever I took, like a page from a romance book, sky opened and the earth shook,”, and nothing else will exist, as it should be.
And yet, a 12-year old will make the traveling soccer team,
a 14-year old will get asked to the homecoming dance,
a 16-year-old will pass her driving test,
a 18-year-old will receive his acceptance letter to his college of choice,
a 28-year-old will get down on one knee and she’ll say “yes”,
a 32-year-old will get the promotion,
a couple married for 35 years will hear they’re finally grandparents.
And yet, there will be baptisms, and christenings, and bar-mitzvahs, and weddings, and divorces, and funerals.
And yet, the 4th of July will still be the 4th of July.
And yet, Springsteen will still belt out “Born in the U.SA”, and Neil Diamond “Sweet Caroline”, and Bon Jovi “Living on a Prayer”.
And yet, and yet, and yet . . .
And perhaps above all remember this in your darkest days to come.
This virus is less than 1 year old. And we?
We, collectively as we are right now, are the result of 4 Billion years of evolutionary success! Don’t forget that, and take all this “and yet” forward with you.