Election day is just around the corner. In a normal year it would be a relief to learn who the winner of the election is and then just move on to mundane routines, but there is nothing normal about life these days. I have serious doubts that the results of the voting will lead to a quiet acceptance of the winner, a time without an avalanche of political maneuvering. For some time now we have been battered by a seemingly infinite loop of campaigning rather than a running of our country. The blistering trend of back and forth between the parties has become a constant way of doing things that is exhausting. If I were to long for a particular time in my past it would be for the days when we settled down after the votes were tabulated and mostly stayed that way until a few months before the next election.
President Trump declares that the American people are tired of Covid-19, and there is truth in that. It is also true that we are exhausted from the rhetoric and the seeming lack of concern for the real issues that we face. We know full well that we are not about to turn a corner with the virus. With winter coming it is more likely that we will face many challenges in the coming months. Those of us who have faithfully taken precautions and changed our lifestyles are quite tired of it all, but we also know that we cannot so simply bend the will of the virus to our own desires for the freedoms and pleasures that we enjoyed only a year ago. We are in a battle for ourselves and all of our neighbors that will require steadfast adherence to common sense precautions, sacrifices like those made in generation after generation during difficult times. We can be tired, but we must stay the course.
Virtually every person that I know has at one time or another dealt with a long term challenge. When I was twenty years old I became a caretaker for my mother who developed a repeated cycle of depression and mania each October, February and July. I and my brothers watched over her and cared for her for forty four years. We grew weary and sometimes even had fanciful dreams of just running away from our responsibilities, but somehow we kept finding the strength that we needed to carry on.
So too is it with people that I know. I have watched them patiently ministering to a parent or spouse with dementia. I have witnessed the depths of their emotions as they virtually lived inside hospitals with children or loved ones who were slowly dying. I have felt the pain and worry of friends and family members who spent years patiently and lovingly caring for a someone with disabilities. Of course they grew tired. Of course they wanted some miracle to free them from the crosses that they bore, but all of them somehow found the strength that they needed to fulfill their promises of love. They found ways to bring snatches of light into their often dark and lengthy journeys.
We have the power of channeling our tiredness into positivity. There are indeed ways to make the best of a challenging situation. Looking outward is often a great way to start. I do not go many places or see many people these days but I still find ways to fill my hours with tasks that uplift my spirit. I become almost giddy when I present remote lessons to the little band of students that I teach. Watching young people learn reminds me that there is a future and it will be bright. Looking to the children and showing them how to navigate through times that demand them to continuously adapt is a remarkably happy experience.
I enjoy seeing how very creative people are managing to find innovative ways of keeping traditions going even in the face of contagion. I’ve partaken of virtual baby showers and watched weddings from afar. The ideas that I have seen for celebrating Halloween are enchanting and even include drive through “trunk or treat” festivities for the kids. I’ve smiled at little ones zip-lining with masks firmly planted on the faces. I gazed at carefully distanced driveway family parties at which everyone dons a goofy mask. I cheered whoever thought of creating drive-through voting. I even saw a drive in church service where families stayed in the cars but were still surrounded by the word of God.
Yes, Mr. President, you are right. We are tired but do not underestimate us. We are not so spoiled and inconsiderate of others that we feel the need to just chuck our caution and pretend that Covid-19 poses no danger. We know how to face the realities that are a part of life. We do not intend to run away from the responsibilities that are most surely ours. We are all in this crazy situation together and the best way of making it through to the other side is going to be to plow on with determination to do whatever we need to do to keep the numbers of illnesses and deaths as low as possible. We know we can do this so please do not become impatient. Help us to stay the course.
There is optimism and there is fantasy. Optimism is a belief that we all have the courage to soldier through whatever lies ahead and that one day gifted individuals will unlock the key to ridding us of the most devastating effects of Covid 19. Fantasy is the false hope that somehow it will all go away if we just pretend that it is no longer a problem that requires our active efforts to keep people safe. Wisdom tells me that it always takes effort to achieve desirable outcomes. Dreams are fine but they must be accompanied by hard work. It’s time for all of us to be the adults in the room. So what if we are tired!