As COVID-19 changes the world, my thoughts are a jumble.
Everything seems different now, but the themes are oddly familiar. Fear, isolation, uncertainty, lack of control, disruption of carefully laid plans – these are things I know well. Boredom and frustration too, along with a sense of incredulousness. How could this have happened?
We live in Washington state, one of the hardest hit here in the US, but in a county that has, so far, been largely spared. Our schools and most businesses are closed, and we’ve been urged to practice physical distancing, all in an effort to avoid the devastation that other countries have endured. My heart goes out to those communities and families. Though we are separated by oceans and tightened borders, we are connected by our vulnerability. It could have been us, and it still may be us.
Those of us blessed with health and security tend to think that it will always be this way. If we work hard enough, are nice enough and responsible enough, our lives will continue on a comfortable trajectory. This mindset, whether it comes from a sense of entitlement or just naïve optimism, becomes laughable in the face of reality. All of us, if we live long enough, will experience something that flattens us. It could be a novel virus or a novel gene mutation, a natural or manmade disaster, the death of someone you thought you couldn’t live without. Invincibility is a myth, frailty the human condition. This is the truth.
I learned this eight years ago, when I diagnosed and foresaw the thing that would flatten me, and it is why I know fear, isolation and uncertainty. But I know other things too, important lessons learned from a girl who, in her physical body, was the very definition of frailty. This girl had a breathless voice that barely registered above a whisper, but she taught a master class on the things that really matter.
She taught me so much, more than can be recorded on this blog or anywhere else. In this strange, unnavigated time, these are things I try to remember:
1)The best prayers are simple and honest:
J’s prayer, April 2015:Dear God, I love you. You are good. You are very good. Will you make me strong?
2. Prepare, but try not to fear:
“I have learned that control is mostly an illusion. We must try our best, of course, to protect the blessings we have been granted – but if our plans are obsessive and driven by fear, we can’t really live.”
3) You don’t have to leave home to have an adventure.
4) Humor can be found in even the darkest times, and it is a blessing. In the history of time, has anyone else quoted Vanilla Ice on her deathbed??