A global pandemic is as big as it gets.
Bigger than a tectonic shift (an earthquake only affects a city or two).
Bigger than landing on the moon. (Only a few competing nations care about that.) Bigger than a political scandal, a stock market crash, and the fall of an empire.
The whole world is involved. This is the first time and probably the last time that this will happen while you’re alive. (A dress rehearsal for global warming, perhaps.)
All the world has, indeed, become a stage. And we’re at intermission. Creatures in black clothes against black curtains, running to and fro. Our props, our sets, our neighbors are being carted away. The lights have shut off, the music turned down.
Unlike a theater performance, however, there is no person over the loudspeaker telling us what’s happening, thanking us for coming, and giving us suggestions on what to do next.
And we don’t like that.
As much as we resent our routines – our assigned seat in the audience, our role in the play – as much as we complain about not having time and space, we, as the human race, struggle much much more with initiating and following through with Change.
We fear losing what we have and that keeps us standing obediently on our X’s and staying in our seats.
But change has come to us. All of us. Whether we want it or not.
It’s taken our jobs, it’s taken our kids’ activities, it’s taken our Friday nights, our Sunday outings, our long drives, our morning commute, our evening happy hour. It’s pulled us away and pushed us back inside, behind closed doors. Without the deep voice over the loudspeaker, without our assigned parts and the cues of others, we’re scrambling.
It’s understandable: this Intermission isn’t ending. It’s becoming our Second Act. And there is no script. We have to make up the lines ourselves.
We’re like typecast characters that get to choose our parts for the first time in a while: it’s a freedom we wished for but struggle to embrace. We really do get to dance like nobody’s watching. Because nobody is watching. We get to build, to create, to cut out little useless carvings, to make paper dolls.
And when we’re past this thing and the lights go up and we’re all standing in bizarre contortions and configurations with new trophies in our grasp, and some of us have left the building while others have kissed the back of their hands and sprayed graffiti in the bathroom, absolutely none of it will be held against us.
All will be revered. And all will be forgiven.
Because… we were all involved – an earthquake heard ’round the world, the same sky falling onto every one of us.
Don’t worry about the scraps of paper that are falling around your feet, the piles of sawdust forming, the pencil shavings. Keep tinkering. See what you come up with.
Our messes will be excused.