So, here it goes. I hope you won’t find this too pretentious. Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been in a giant funk and deep, almost dream-like haze for about the last week. As fun as a funky haze might sound, it is most definitely not fun. Does anyone else feel like they’re cycling through something approximating the stages of grief seemingly every hour? Does anyone else feel like they have just enough emotional and mental band width to do little more than watch one more episode of the Office? Does anyone else feel pissed that for some reason THERE IS NO TOILET PAPER ANYWHERE IN THE CIVILIZED WORLD?!
I know that I’m not the only person with this idea. Thousands of dead blogs are resurrecting from the dead this week. But in an effort to get out of my funk, I’ve decided I need to write. I’m going to write something every day. Some of it will be short. Some will be long. Most of it will be slightly under-cooked. I’ve got so many thoughts swirling in my head at the moment, I’ve got to get them under control or I will likely drive my family crazy. I could just write for myself (and maybe I should), but I’ve been encouraged to share my thoughts. My genuine hope is that something I say will be helpful and hopeful. At least you might be encouraged that someone out there might be feeling the same as you.
So here it goes. Day 1.
I’ve been trying to think about what to compare this moment to, and I’m coming up empty. Earlier this week, or was it five years ago, it’s so hard to tell, I posted to Facebook that COVID-19 is this generation’s September 11. Upon reflection, I don’t think that’s right. September 11 was a scary time. It was a time of uncertainty and prayer. It was a moment where so many of us didn’t really know how the world might be changing, but we sensed it had forever changed for the worse. There was economic chaos. There was a lot of sitting in front of TVs. There was the dawning realization that the events of that day were likely going to result in much more loss of life as we entered into conflict with two different nations in the Middle East. Some people were genuinely concerned about the capacity of those leading the country in that time of crisis.
But in so many ways what we are going through now is not like September 11. September 11 resulted in a togetherness that I struggle to put into words. Churches were full, at least for a while. Strangers were embracing on the streets. Friends were gathering on back decks and bars to laugh and cry and just…be. Cultural institutions like Major League Baseball and Saturday Night Live returned out of a sense of duty for the common good. It was something to behold. This moment is so different. The very thing that helps us the most – being together – is the very thing denied to us. Being together is a problem.
Social distancing is a euphemism that I hope we all come to hate.
I’m not against social distancing. I’m not a “coronavirus is a hoax perpetrated by a cabal consisting of Kim Jong Un, Nancy Pelosi, and CNN” person. I just think social distancing sucks. I know this is a brave position to take right now, but I want to reiterate that social distancing sucks bad.
I’ve even engaged in digital social distancing. Facebook and Twitter are just too much at the moment. I’ve taken instead to texting and talking with those closest to me. Keep the circle tight. I know the importance of social media in a time like this, but goodness, it’s like an injection of anxiety straight into the veins at this point.
It feels like we’re being stripped down.
But here’s what I’m pretty sure of. Despite social distancing, there is no way that we get through this season without each other. I’m not sure what that looks like. But there will be moments – many of them – over the coming weeks where we will be faced with a moment where we can either be there for a person in need or choose not to be there.
I’m hopeful tonight because I believe that grit is born out of fear. I suppose that’s one of the hopeful lessons I remember from September 11. We were a gritty people back then. I believe we can be gritty again.