Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Musings in a Time of Crisis V

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit
and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, 
this is one of the strongest things you can do.
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
"We Were Made for These Times"
"Letter to a Young Activist in Troubled Times"


When it's all over, what happens to all the stories told in FaceBook posts, Twitter comments, lines of poetry shared?

What is one of the most important but unanswered questions about COVID-19?*

In leadership and human resources literature, I learned the other day, focusing on failure is called the "Wallenda factor". The term was coined after the 1978 death of the legendary German-American high-wire artist Karl Wallenda, founder of The Flying Wallendas. According to Wallenda's wife, on the day he died in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the aerialist had been overly worried about not falling instead of concentrating on getting across a 75-foot-high wire. (See Warren Bennis's Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge, one of many books that discuss the subject.) Something other than fear of failure is driving U.S. leaders' response to the pandemic.

I have little to no fear of dying, even in the solitude I keep daily; I have my faith, the beauty of my art to turn to, the several hundred books of shelved poetry, always available to open and read. I am, however, scared of how I might respond if my only child, who lives an entire country-worth-of-miles-away, were to become infected and not be allowed to be tested. All mothers, in their own way, are like that Orca whale who grieved her dead infant for 17 days.


What has become of all the children locked in cages at our border with Mexico?


On the day I married for a second time, while headed to the reception in an open carriage, the sniper team of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boy Malvo was doing its deadly work in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. How many of my friends remember the wedding? How many the shootings?

How many times have you recounted your last intended words to a beloved?


We know how to use 3D printing to make ventilators for patients and face shields for health care workers. What we don't know is, are we willing to risk enough to make enough in time?

When I ask a friend how she's doing in self-imposed isolation, she tells me she's making romantic dinners for herself, lighting candles, dressing up, and playing the music she's always liked.


In this crisis, we tell our stories as we live them.


* See Brian Resnick, "The 9 most important unanswered questions about Covid-19", Vox, March 20, 2020.

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