These are hard times. Who can argue otherwise? A third of the world’s population is in lockdown because of coronvirus. With that comes massive unemployment rates and business decline. Close to two million people have contracted coronavirus. Over 100,000 have died of COVID-19. The days, weeks, and months ahead look bleak, but I’m not going to complain.
Why? I’ll start with the MOST important reason–my family is healthy. Not everyone can say that, so I choose to be thankful. While my husband is furloughed, I am still working. Because of this we have health insurance and a steady, albeit reduced, income. We’ll get by. Not everyone can say that, so I’ll count my blessings. We have a roof over our heads and plenty to eat. After he left his dorm in Boston because his college shifted to online classes nearly a month ago, my oldest son sat at the dinner table and said “We really live a privileged life. We are eating steak for dinner in the midst of a global pandemic.” He wasn’t wrong. I instantly thought back to stories my grandfather told me about growing up in Italy during World War II. I remember him telling me how hungry he was and because there was nothing else to eat, he ate acorns. Acorns. He said they gave him terrible stomach aches, but he ate them because he had no other choice. My grandfather ate acorns and I am eating steak. I’m pretty sure, I’ve got nothing to complain about.
I am a teacher and, like many teachers, I am learning oodles of new technology to make distance learning bearable for my students. That’s right, bearable. I understand that my students are going through a lot right now. They are emotionally adjusting to this screwball ‘new normal,’ missing out on seminal high school moments, and some have increased responsibilities like cooking and caring for younger siblings because their parents are health care or other essential workers putting in crazy hours. Some have inconsistent online access. Some are struggling financially because their parents are no longer working. Some have family members with the coronavirus, which means they will likely become infected too. So, I think bearable is a reasonable bar for distance learning. I am simultaneously helping my youngest son with his distance learning work. He’s eight with an uncommon medical condition. It’s a challenge to balance it all and most nights I am up until 1 a.m. I’m exhausted, I’m not going to lie. I’m also not going to complain about it because it’s not going to make the situation any better. In fact, it’s going to make it worse by placing the magnifying glass over all that is wrong instead of all that is right. I’m not a health care worker putting my life on the line to care for those infected with coronavirus without adequate protective gear. I’m tired. They are putting themselves in harm’s way for the greater good. There is NO comparison.
I keep reminding myself that this isn’t forever. This is for now. I can do this for a few months. I can do hard things. We all can do hard things. My all time favorite quote is from Paulo Coelho–“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” We fell. The world fell. We will get up though. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow…but eventually we will get up. I’m trying my best to be patient until then. I’m also trying to find as much beauty as I can…and I see it everywhere. It’s in the daily walks I take with my family…a trilling bird, violet and golden budding flowers, the warm sunshine. They are all medicinal. I see pictures of my friends’ children frolicking in nature. Beautiful. Tyler Perry is paying for senior citizens’ groceries. Dolly Parton is reading books to children online. Americans are sewing protective masks for health care workers and the Patriots sent their plane to China to pick up more disposable masks. Neil Diamond and Dennis DeYoung are singing to us from their living rooms. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Did you happen to catch the Hamilton cast Zoom-bomb John Krasinski’s SGN (or the Hamilton sing along!)? Beautiful. I just watched Andrea Bocelli’s live concert from il Duomo di Milano and when he sang “Amazing Grace,” I wept. They weren’t tears of joy or tears of pain. His gorgeous tenor voice resounded “was blind, but now I see” and I couldn’t help but think about how much adversity Bocelli had to overcome in his life. My tears were of admiration and of hope. They were tears of resilience. If Bocelli can theoretically overcome blindness in his music, then we can overcome this insidious, unrelenting virus. I refuse to let it break my spirit. Refuse. For now, I’m going to immerse myself in the beauty of nature, the arts, and random acts of kindness. For now, I’m going to take each day one by one until the time comes for us to get up again. And in the meantime, I’m not going to complain about it.