Panic and Fear

I’ve been juggling a lot this past week. I’m sure you have too. My older college-age kids are calling in to see “what they should do”. My younger kids are accompanying me on grocery shopping trips wondering why boxes are strewn all over the place and aisles are empty. My husband and I stare blankly at each other after absorbing the nightly news. Schools are cancelling, concert tours are bring cancelled. The stock market is crashing.

Life seems to be coming to a grinding halt.

Haven’t we been here before?

I remember standing out on my sunny tree-lined street, rocking an infant and getting ready to pick up kids from nursery school. My dad came racing down the street and into my driveway to tell me that the Twin Towers had fallen. I remember the shock, the uncertainty, the fear, the panic.

But you know what I remember more?

I remember my husband not being able to get home. I remember the guys from the block checking in on me and the kids. I remember neighbors popping in just to chat. I remember how many friends proposed or decided to have babies shortly after the catastrophe. I remember how many friends husbands ran in to the city to recover bodies, clean debris. I remember how many home-cooked meals we gathered to prep for our friends families- and how many times we gathered round the table to thank God for whatever remained.

Sure, this virus is a different sort of catastrophe.

The panic and fear is the same. People are glued to social media or television. The stores are packed with people wanting to stockpile. The president, the administration, health care and elected officials are trying to “stay on top” of the situation as best they can. We look to them for answers.

The answers, however, are often found within ourselves. They’re simple. Classic. Old school. Unchanging.

  1. Practice good hygiene. Clean often. Clean up your mess. Wipe up before you leave.
  2. Keep your family safe. Wipe down entryways, exits, well- travelled areas in your house. Do the dishes. Do the laundry.
  3. Be kind. Check in on neighbors- the elderly, the single moms or dads. Ask your kids if any of their friends needs help (you’d be surprised in college how many kids have no where to go)
  4. BE THE VOICE OF REASON. Even if you’re panicked, share it with another adult you trust. Don’t share it with your kids or your kids’ friends . Be an adult.
  5. Trust people to do their job. I know that’s tough if you “hate” the President or the Governor or your kids principal, but they may have more information than the general public and their decisions are more populous- based than perhaps based on your personal agenda. It’s hard to realize that happens when you grow up .
  6. Love people harder. Kiss your spouse more, your kids, your parents. Let chaos breed MORE love.
  7. Smile more. It’s contagious. It gives birth to hope. No matter what.
  8. Remember where you came from. My grandparents used to bore me with war stories and depression stories. But somehow, I dig up a tremendous amount of peace when I think how their hardships shaped so much of our history. And here we are- stronger, smarter, living longer…

I don’t mean to take anything about the corona virus lightly. I don’t.

I just know that panic and fear paralyze. They keep you from processing.

If you let panic and fear take hold, then you can only expect to grow a longer list of excuses as to why you need to stop living, even momentarily.

These moments are all we have. Whether we live 100 years more or even just 100 more seconds, we need to fill those moments with love and light, not panic and fear.

When I have trouble remembering this, I make sure to catch a sunrise or even a sunset. I remind myself of the glorious and mysterious order of the universe. And how it all makes sense.

Maybe not to me. Maybe not to you. Maybe not today.

It’s up to us to move forward. It’s up to us to bring forth that order- or as my mom always calls it “the pony in the pile of shit”.

It’s there.

Start digging.


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