“Sit down,” hollered Mr. Varela.
All of us junior high students on his big yellow school bus were leaning toward the windows on the right side, squawking and gawking at the gaping holes in people's front yards. It was 1963. The Soviet Union and the United States were posturing at one another and fear ran high. Not yet twenty years after our country dropped the big one - TWICE… once on Hiroshima and once on Nagasaki. Mushroom clouds and desolation were showing up in our dreams. We ran to look out the other side of the bus. “Sit down right now,” Mr. Varela hollered again. He liked us. He was a really cool bus driver. He must’ve known we just couldn't believe how many front yards had holes in the ground. My mom and step dad already told me adamantly they would never build one... a fallout shelter. Thought it was stupid. If a bomb dropped, no fallout shelter would protect us from the radiation. I wanted to know what would happen to the birds?
Now, 75 years after the big bombs showed us how fragile we humans are, we’re in dire straits. This time with a pandemic. We might do well to have the isolation of a fallout shelter, but we'd go through our hardtack and water rations pretty quick and still need to interact with other people who... well, God knows where they've been and with whom they’ve been interacting. One of those super spreader events could just reach out and getcha!
Who knows when it will end. Who knows what will happen on Election Day? Who knows if the dogwhistler will have wrangled up enough support to have the Minute Men Militia intimidate people at the polls? Who knows if the rankled might wrestle election workers to the ground and only count ballots marked TRUMP?
I keep thinking of the old curse: May you live in interesting times.
Well, I guess we're all cursed. We're living through the most interesting time I've ever seen. Who could imagine we'd have a president and vice-president who would allow this great country, with only four percent of the world's population, to have a whopping 20% of the deaths world wide due to the Corona Virus? It's almost as if they’d planned an intentional culling of vulnerable populations. That the president himself came down with it speaks volumes about the respect due this virus. It knows how to propagate and spread itself widely among people who won’t and don't protect themselves and others by practicing the simple courtesy of wearing a mask over their mouths and noses.
My favorite act of denial is the one where someone talking pulls his mask down to warm his chin as if his beard is cold or he’ll be misunderstood if he doesn’t show his teeth. How dense people are. How clueless about how their actions affect fellow humans in their surround. Who do they think they are? Isolationists? Alone in their own fallout shelter?
Someone said, “I feel like Mother Earth has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we have done.
Ultimately, I think we will all pull together and get through this and come away with some very useful lessons.
One is not taking for granted the importance of community, meaningful work and engagement with life. Another is the GREAT GRATITUDE we feel in our cells when our fellow travelers are KIND and generous and civil. How little we truly need. How lovely to return to a human BEING and leave behind the human DOING.
Taking a DEEP breath for the natural world, the birds and trees, rivers and seas…
We’re all in this together. Let’s enjoy what we’ve got!
Somos el Barco
Somos el Mar
Yo navego en tí
Tu navegas en mí
We are the boat
We are the sea
I sail in you
You sail in me… Chorus from a song by Lorre Wyatt © 1984