Kim Kardashian called. She wants her first world problems back.
Okay, maybe it’s not quite as dreadful or hopeless as Vladimir Putin was hoping it might turn out. Unless you hang out on the Twitter or Reddit sites, which I do not recommend you do unless dystopian soap opera plots are your jam. And just so you know, I’m not saying Vlad the Impaler of Hope had anything to do with this virus. His powers are limited to horse back riding without a shirt, eating cinnamon encrusted beef jerky without need for water and fucking with our elections.
Europe currently has a “Do Not Disturb” sign up as it has been hit especially hard. Tom Hanks and his lovely wife Rita are literally castaways as we speak. The Utah Jazz have gotten more pub than if they would have won the NBA title simply by having a couple of players test positive. Americans of all stations and status from coast to coast are providing an ever expanding face to this virus.
You know things have gotten serious when sports get shut down, because nothing gets in the way of our sports. Not two World Wars. Not the assassination of a President. Not even September 11th. But the dominoes which began with the cancellation of March Madness has crept into the NBA and NHL suspending play while the MLB has scrapped spring training and is moving back opening day.
Without benefit of games, ESPN has had to rely on journalism. Which is another way of saying that ratings have plummeted. Casinos are closing. Retailers are posting limits on toilet paper and hand sanitizer purchases. Web MD is currently a more popular site than Porn Hub.
If you’re young, consider this a vacation from the every day. Your immune systems are assembly line peach in comparison to us folks of a certain age. I’m in that notoriously provocative middle earth population of peeps who consider sneezing a four letter word. And if this tunnel doesn’t start giving us a little sunlight, we may have to resort to punching anyone who coughs inside our bubble. Nothing personal, of course.
And really, that’s the whole thing right there, isn’t it? This isn’t personal, unless we really want to make it so. Because right now, as a species, we still have the ability to stoke that fledgling spirit inside us that believes humanity is a pretty okay place to be. Even on its shittiest days, the world usually gives us something to latch onto. Hope really is riding shotgun, idiomatically speaking. And now more than ever, this is happening if we extricate ourselves from dark web searches for toilet paper and hand sanitizers. If we just let ourselves consider that human beings have been through a hell of a lot worse than this. Hell, we somehow survived the election of 2016, after all.
Let’s just sit back and take a deep breath, and let’s consider someone who has tested positive. Let’s think about what their families and friends are going through right now before we whine about not having picked up extra beer and chips in the event we’re holed up for a couple weeks time. Let’s just put ourselves in someone else’s head for a simple moment, and do something novel inside a time when looking out for yourself has become status. Let’s pray for them. That they make it through this thing with nothing more than a lousy t-shirt. Humanity is the only inventory we should be concerned with right now. Because to my way of thinking, the darkest of times is when the light is needed most. So it’s okay if our grocery list consists of a little humility, a little compassion and a whole lot of gratitude.
There’s a town called Siena, tucked inside a hilly region of Tuscany between the valleys and the clouds. Italy has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and so the residents of this charming little medieval arrangement of castles and cathedrals have been relegated to their homes as a result. But rather than bemoan this solitary existence fraught with ever more daunting scenarios, the people of Siena fixed themselves on a different approach. On the night of March 13th, one of the quarantined residents let loose with a song that floated from one window to another to another . . until the entire street was draped in music.
So this one little song from this one little town, I gotta think maybe it was telling us something. Maybe it was telling us that to dwell on the bold font headlines of gloom and doom is to miss the point. Maybe instead of focusing on what we are inside these moments, maybe we should focus on something much more powerful.
What we can be.