What happened when Humpty Dumpty couldn’t be put back together again? Maybe somebody picked up the broken pieces, threw them all away and began to use new materials to build a new Humpty Dumpty, or maybe some old pieces were saved and new pieces found to rebuild a hybrid Humpty Dumpty. I am conjecturing on a nursery rhyme which is pretty silly, but these questions seem to fit my concerns about returning to “normal” after the Covid crisis. Can we gather the broken pieces of our society, economy  and political environment and simply glue them back together?  Better yet, do we even want to put the country back to where it was before Covid?  

We are in crisis : an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending; especially : one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome <a financial crisis>  We could be past the point of no return, heading back to the way we were is simply no longer an option. In my lifetime I have faced crisis, such as Rogers death, which left me no option to return to the way things were. It was a matter of don’t look back, I wasn’t going that way. 

So facing forward while evaluating what was broken and what was working in the past seems the way to go. My life has fallen apart more times than I would have wished, and the first step I needed to take was to accept it was as bad as it was. Denial blocks any motivation to make changes and protects the status quo, no matter how awful it is. So when things fall apart, start from where you are and keep moving, but keep learning and evaluating each step of the way. The strengths I had needed to stay with me,  but my weaknesses needed to be left behind or transformed.  A personal crisis may highlight poor coping skills just as the Covid crisis has highlighted broken social systems, medical systems and economic systems.  Our President’s incompetence and  lack of leadership are liabilities putting our country’s future at risk.

Opportunities for growth are usually preceeded by pain and confusion. Change is scary and often we are forced to change or wither in our status quo. See how the bird has to break the shell to enter the world or the butterfly has to crack open the cocoon to emerge as a beautiful  thing. There is no returning to the shell or the cocoon. We all hope for spiritual wings as we return to the unknown, our world transformed by crisis.

Go Outside and Play

When I was growing up on the farm Mom suggested more than once that we “Go outside and Play.” We were bugging her and she wanted us out of her hair. Most of the time we wanted to go play outside, inventing games and running in the green grass and hiding out in the trees.  My Mother never told us to make sure to put our masks on, stay six feet apart and wash our hands when we came inside. This is where we are today. I don’t understand how we got here, but we are here. Do you remember those posters showing germs as ugly little creatures to teach children to wash their hands and cover their coughs and sneezes? We need this poster plastered on billboards, Facebook and Instagram for visual learners like me and most of us. It is tempting to say if we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist, but then the body bags should be a clue. Can we really “protect” our children from the catastrophes of the real world.

Baby Boomers, remember the Atomic Bomb drills from elementary school? We were taught to crawl under our desks and cover our heads.  This later came to be known as the “…bend over and kiss your ass goodbye” drill. I worried about the atomic bomb and wondered if the cement walls in our basement would be a good bomb shelter. I believed adults when they told me this would protect me. The nuclear arms race was really a children’s game with deadly consequences. Are you out of snowballs or not? We agree the game is over, we have no more snowballs and won’t make anymore. It was trust, but verify, then, as it is now. Snowballs are not nuclear war heads, children may understand this better that adults.

Vietnam and “….our boys come home in a box.” Still not men, 17 and 18 year old boys died in the jungle. They were our sons, brothers and friends and we were in shock that death came to claim our young. Young bodies and minds were permanently disfigured, the trauma of war still claiming victims even today. Children saw their Mommas cry when their older brother returned home a double amputee. And the anger that tore this country apart left children with questions that couldn’t be answered. 

We had fire drills but we never had active shooter drills in elementary and high school. Certainly worrying about getting gunned down in the halls of my school was not a fear I had. Talking about who was dating who and how much fun  the weekend party was were my concerns. Sandy Hook happened when I was in my forties and everything changed. How do you protect first graders from bullets? How do you protect students with no where to run, maybe hiding under their desks? Children are afraid to go to school and must practice what to do if someone is shooting at them. We hope active shooter drills will at least help children feel they have actions to take in the face of fear—a tiny sliver of control.

Childhood innocence never lasts very long. Reality comes in and steals it away. Is there hope in the face of catastrophes that define our lives? Read the sidewalk chalk for notes of solidarity during the Covid 19 crisis and count the Teddy bears in the windows. Neighbors checking on each other, feeding each other and comforting each other. After this virus passes, when we are able to put our lives and hearts back together, my hope is we will have learned to stand together and love thy neighbor. Then let’s all go outside and play!