An article I read about CoronaVirus fatigue has a great line in it, which I shall quote:
“It’s difficult when you think you have a light at the other end of the tunnel to look forward to, and then all of a sudden you realize it’s a train.”
I like how words sound and flow. I am elated when I hear a quality phrase that says in a nutshell what so many of us can easily relate to. Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, so this compact little sentence, uttered by a fellow named Gabe Rice, says it all.
Of course, Rice is talking about the whole “hunker down for a week or so and we’ll get the curve flattened” thing that we heard and mostly obeyed in March. Now, nearly five months later, we’re still hunkered down. OR we hunkered up (is that right?) and then hunkered down again when the virus did what viruses do and spread sickness and death.
There is a necessary element to getting through an ordeal, and it’s this: we have to call it what it is, even if that means we say it’s bad. Our cultural affluence tilts us toward two things that really mess up this process. First, we greatly dislike bad experiences. We avoid them or call them out with expectation of correction. The tools at our fingertips include Yelp! reviews, hammering corporations on Twitter, and Karening. I should point out that my beloved mother-in-law is named Karen and is not a Karen, in fact, she is the antithesis.
Second, we hesitate to be negative. If we are negative, pessimistic, or brutally honest, something in us bristles, which harkens back to our aversion to bad experiences. Perhaps I speak only autobiographically here, but I can tell you that, as a leader, I find myself working really hard to find the upshot, lest I be labeled a complainer, a pessimist, or anything but a “positive thinker”. This is often evidenced at a table full of leaders, where one person defines reality in negative yet honest terms, and then another at the meeting says something about looking at the positive side. The folks at the table will typically resound far more with the positive, which functions as a collective sigh of relief. Thank goodness we weren’t negative and uncomfortable for too long. Thank you for rescuing us with optimism. It sure is what it is! Great point!
Then Gabe, a fellow who lives in Arizona and who hunkered down/up/down, comes along and says something that we can resonate with. And I don’t feel the need to rescue or however what he said, because I’m learning to spend time in a harsh reality without pushing the morphine button of bland optimism. It may not be enjoyable, but it is most certainly necessary for our own endurance. Whenever Jesus talked about his crucifixion, he didn’t gloss over the bad stuff. He said it, felt it, and didn’t even live through it. “My God, my God, I don’t mean to complain, but why have you forsaken me? I know, I know: it is what it is” (Psalm 22, amplified optimism translation).
Indeed. It is like the light at the end of the tunnel has become a train. Well said.
Let’s just sit with that for a while and see what gets formed in us.