Many emotions have swirled through my heart over the past weeks. Certainly discomfort, a lack of ease. Sadness for much that has been lost. Graduations, proms, and weddings. For those who dismiss the legitimacy of sadness regarding the missing of these milestones I would ever so gently encourage you to remember being a teen or young adult. These rights of passage were everything. Being sad because you’re missing prom or graduation doesn’t mean you don’t get the bigger picture. This isn’t a zero sum game. There’s enough space for multiple truths. That’s the beauty of the human spirit. Jobs lost. Lives lost. We are all experiencing collective grief. When we are sad and frightened it can be easy to start throwing daggers. An us vs them mindset is primal. Let us find someone, or something, to blame, because blame gives us the illusion of control and control feeds the illusion of safety. I’m not suggesting mistakes haven’t been made. I’m suggesting focusing on them is a precious waste of time.
This week I’ve cried a lot, or perhaps teared up would be a more accurate description. This week my tears have not been about sadness or discomfort. I know those feelings will pop in from time to time, but this week my tears are coming from a sense of pure awe and gratitude, from a well of pride in humanity. I’ve always been a lover of humanity. I’ve always been a passionate believer that love is bigger than hate, that the light will always burn out the darkness. But, as Anne Lamott says, Grace always bats last. Love, compassion, and kindness are far quieter than rage and animosity. They sneak up on us They require no parade or fanfare. But they always arrive. They always have the last word. They always win. Always. It’s historic.
When my sons reached the age when they were becoming cognizant of the larger world, when they became aware of how dark things can get out there, my response to their global concerns was typically this; look for the miracles. Yes, hold space for the tragedy, honor them, and then take a step back and look beyond. Widen the lens. Find the love and sheer bravery in response to the tragedy. Pay attention to all the people who faced the darkness and chose to step up and forward. Listen for the millions who are whispering “how can I help?” The brilliant psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” Glennon Doyle recently did an IG post where she spoke of her favorite characters in the movie Titanic, the band members, because even as the ship was going down they just kept playing. On our best days that’s who we are. We just keep playing. We distract ourselves and others with love and compassion and humor until the storm passes.
We have lost much. But what have we gained? With more Americans at risk of going hungry, donations to food banks and communities working around the clock to problem solve ways to feed our most vulnerable will blow your heart wide open because we will not surrender to the darkness. We will not flinch. Neighbors are looking out for each other in an unprecedented manner. Last week my hometown NE Patriots pulled off an almost Seal Team 6 level op taking its jet to China to retrieve a million N95 masks for healthcare workers on the frontline. They could only be on the ground in China for 3 hours. They pulled it off in 2 hours 57 minutes, because that’s what love does. It makes the seemingly impossible possible. Then they drove 300,000 of them straight to NYC. If you're familiar with the Boston/NYC rivalry that alone will bring a tear to your eye, because a game is a game, but life is life and we are one. Companies are stepping up in creative and mind blowing ways. Millions are staying put, not because they are frightened for their own health, but because they love others, because they are putting others above themselves. Docs, nurses, scientists, truck drivers, therapists, social workers janitors, parents and so many more are bone tired...and they just keep playing. Millions of Americans with little to spare are donating to help their fellow man. Globally we are witnessing a massive coming together. If you’re paying attention it will flat out take your breath away. So we can get caught up focusing on the fear and all that can bring out in us humans. Or we can take a step back and look again. We can expand the lens. Just for today I hope you will allow yourself to feel the enormity of love and hope and courage. To say that I am so unbelievably proud of you all feels so inadequate, but it is my truth. You are love, compassion, courage and resiliency. You take my breath away. Thank you.