“Seeing the World with Plague Eyes”

“We’re seeing the world with plague eyes now.  We’re all going through the same experiences. “   People in Seoul, Milan, and New Jersey are connected by a virus that reminds us of the fundamental fact of human interdependence.”

David Brooks

Night one of togetherness was novel. We spread out at a long table, each two seats apart. Everyone was tired– two family members and a dog just pulled into town from a long drive. All a bit rundown with different colds/bugs from different parts of the country, and different stressors making us a bit ragged. (Pledgeship just ending getting the least sympathy.)  We went over division of labor and toilet paper rations and some family fun that would be had. “What is going on here? I am not doing this!” was exclaimed from a restless college kid.

No one was terribly hungry so we cooked a few steaks and ½ box of pasta.  We agreed it would be plenty. But, then scarcity was recognized, and there was scrutiny,  “you took that much?” Another- “You seriously threw 10 bowtie pastas in the sink? I would have eaten them!” “We’re not supposed to share.”  “I thought you weren’t sick?!”

A finger lick.  And back in the jar. “You can’t do that?” “What? I didn’t do anything, just this,” (repeat lick, fingers back in the jar.) Then another: cough cough. And, “Can you cover your mouth?!”   “I just choked on water, sorrrrreyy.” Nervous laughter.

Then, last night while visions of family ski day danced in (some of ) our heads…the fevers arrived, like thieves in the night:

Woke to “Mom I don’t feel well.” “Mom I think I have a fever.” “Mom, Can I Get in your bed?”   Good news, I was no longer the irrational buzzkill who had stopped them from driving to CA today. Bad news, I didn’t feel great either.

Things have changed quite dramatically, and quickly.  When I got here a week ago there were no reported cases in the state.  Sunny skies, fresh powder, Corona felt like the outside world’s problem.  Then the first Presidential announcements, tourists reporting back they had been diagnosed upon returning home, including a convention where 40/55 participants that came to the valley reported now sick.  Yesterday, the mayor of Ketchum declared a disaster emergency, and the county has a “Shelter in Place” Isolation Order. Emails are flying around: assume everyone has been exposed, only those in imminent danger get tests.  Medical resources are overloaded and the ER staff are in quarantine. Paper supplies are depleted.

We’ve  been offered guns by prepper people we know, and non-alarmists alike.  As my husband said, “ Maybe we should ask so and so for one of their guns (everybody’s doing it. Group think is scary!) And then on second thought, “ But am I really gonna shoot someone who’s coming to my house for what, hamburger meat?  Take the hamburger meat!“ (Scram)

If you think the Corona profiling is bad in public–wait until it permeates the walls of your house.  My kids have shifted from FOMO to FOGO. Fear of Going Out. Of their bedrooms, that is.  The Lord of the Flies have decided that the one with the highest fever is not invited to join the rest of us around the pizza box – bravely grabbed at drive by pizza pick up that looked like a drug deal.  

Some of this fear is rooted in fact.  Most is rooted in fear. Both are real.  

The seeds of negativity are always there, but very positive seats also exist, such as the seeds of compassion, tolerance, and love. The seeds are all there in the soil, but without rain they cannot manifest. Our practice is to recognize and water the positive seeds.

Thich Nhat Hanh

The question is, which ones are you going to feed?   If local panic starts to rise,  how are you going to handle it? Which direction will you choose, which seeds are you going to water ?  We’ve all got good and bad, faith and fear, gnawing at us. Might you heed the call to feed your faith, in humanity and good and love and peace,  and then take action (or non-action) supporting that? Thomas Friedman was right about The Golden Rule. “Do Unto Others as You Would have Them do Unto You” is about finding honest balance. 

Right Now Balance Is Crucial.

Are you going to trust that the medical community is doing their best, that they have back up in order and plans for at risk patients who need care.  Do you need to buy the last 10 boxes of pasta on the shelf if you live alone? And couldn’t you go ask your neighbor if you were hungry, or my family as we are clearly not packing heat. (Hopefully no Lenten peace blog readers are going to burn me for sharing this vulnerability!)

I got emails today and heard stories from LA to Chicago to Boston.  A nephew in the National Guard in Boston is being called up. In LA  people are driving like crazy, and now lockdown, as we have here in Idaho.  Stores on Chicago’s Oak Street are boarding up in case of looting. It is up to each of us to feed our faith and find balance between Self Preservation and Selflessness. Don’t Panic! Be the most positive version of your self. This is just a call to peace, and to practice the Buddhist notion of non-attachment, not just to things, but to outcomes, and to our certainty of them.

Go with the Flow. Be Like a River. Let Go and Let God. Surrender. 

David Brooks wrote yesterday,

“Screw this virus… While we are at it,  screw certainty. Over the past few weeks I’ve been bingeing on commentary from people predicting how long this is going to last and how bad it’s going to be. The authors seem really smart and their data sets seem really terrible.

I’m beginning to appreciate the wisdom that cancer patients share: We just can’t know. Don’t expect life to be predictable or fair. Don’t try to tame the situation with some feel-good lie or confident prediction. Embrace the uncertainty of this whole life-or-death deal. There’s a weird clarity that comes with that embrace. There is a humility that comes with realizing you’re not the glorious plans you made for your life.

When the plans are upset, there’s a quieter and better you beneath them.

We will get through this, but the reality is we have to go through it to get it through it. Breathe, trust, hydrate, and pray.  And Keep the humor.  As Brooks concluded,

“In the meantime, as someone on my Twitter feed observed: ‘Airport rules apply. If you want a beer at 9 a.m., go for it ! ‘”

** ps Thank you to all the people who reached out today with concern or having said a prayer for her. She’s a bit better! Her fever is the same but she is eating, wasn’t admitted to the hospital and sounds like a human being again. There’s somethin’ to all this… and, now I am heart warmed too, (to about 101 degrees! ) virtual xo

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Elinor!!!!
    I am so sorry to hear y’all are sick!!!
    Prayers!
    ❤️🙏

  2. Prayers for you all!

  3. Feel better E!! Wish you guys were down here with us.😘

  4. Thanks Elinor – so many of us look forward to these – be well…

  5. So bummed for you:( You share so much strength, I pray it returns to you all ten fold.

  6. Thank you Elinor. Sorry to hear that you are sick. You all are in our prayers. Your strength is an inspiration for all of us.

  7. Love all your posts, this one in particular. We are not sick (yet) but the slightest cough from a family member and everyone looks. Finding humor is KEY right now….it is going to be ok. I feel good about what we are doing (most of us), trying to protect everyone and not overload our healthcare system. There will be a point in time when we’ll know if it worked, and I pray it’s in time to protect the economy too. As for me, one of the things I’ve been doing, is fantasizing about the day that we are all back at our favorite restaurants. Because guess what? THAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN!! Such a wonderful thing to look forward to. And it will be better than before, because we will be grateful (I love going to Cristina’s for breakfast, but next time, I will sit and breath and be still and be thankful). Love to you xoxoxo

  8. Another great post! Your words are so helpful, so thank you for writing even when you probably feel like crud. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re all under the weather – hopefully just a bug and not THE bug. Sending good thoughts and healing energy your way. 🙏🏼✨

  9. From the immunocompromised desk of this shut-in:
    If people do indeed show their true colors in times of crisis, I am fortunate to belong to a community whose colors are vividly generous and loving. The frequent occurrence of a car pulling in to the driveway makes me weepy and grateful. Yet another friend emerges with bags of groceries, a mask, a card, a well wish, a home cooked wonder. Like everyone, I hear the disturbing accounts of people hoarding and being so wrapped up in their personal concern that they lose sight of the opportunity for togetherness and unity. Thankfully, I don’t know anyone like that, but I understand the impulse and do my best to calm my judgments, realizing that they, too, are in the circle. In my circle. In our circle.

  10. Elinore I hope you all feel better soon and please let me know if I can bring you supplies. Thank you for this blog. It really helps me stay grounded!

  11. Elinor,
    Sending healing prayers to all of you! I wish we were in SV and could be of help to you guys. Get well soon! ox

Leave a Reply

Close Menu