This weekend held so many conflicting, paradoxical emotions and episodes it feels contrite to try to convey anything of meaning, when I can’t make sense of much anymore. But I will try.
Let’s start with some good news. Friday evening, our neighborhood was center stage for a special drive-by birthday parade. Thanks to friends and family, Jen Schumacher and Ruth Payne from Aero Methow Rescue Service, Anne Young from the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, Brian McAuliffe from Okanogan County Fire District 6, and the Twisp Police Department, our house was the destination of small but socially distant parade of vehicles wishing happy birthday to our now 8-year old.
Well-wishers greeted the birthday boy, who was dressed as a Gryffindor masked wizard, with cards and signs from their cars whilst wizard boy cast spells on the police with his magic wand. Thankfully, Officer Ty Sheehan knew the counter spell for “Expelliarmus” and was able to ward off the otherwise defensive charm that would have left him armless. The little wizard sent them all home with candy bags as neighbors on bikes lined May Street.
I have to say, hosting a drive-by party was perhaps the easiest party ever — no clean-up, no decorations, just a quick and simple hello, thank you, and goodbye. With added police and rescue vehicle escorts, it was memorable and fun! In the post-coronavirus age, this drive-by tradition just might perpetuate.
Next, let’s look to the sky. Saturday marked a hallmark occasion with the blastoff of SpaceX and NASA in the first public-private launch of a manned spacecraft from U.S. soil. I was caught off-guard, having been totally oblivious to this apparently important event. As I headed out for a run in the muggy air, a string of texts started coming in alerting me to the countdown. But this event, like much of what’s going on in the world, brings conflicting feelings. It feels inspiring that space exploration is advancing, and the dawning of new space age is upon us. But on the other hand, it feels like the end of an earthly age, where private interests are looking to space as the next frontier of exploitation. With SpaceX rockets able to take off and land, thousands of satellites to be deployed creating a web of interconnectivity around the globe, and the advent of space tourism, it just gets to be too complex to comprehend or predict the implications.
This leads us all the predicament that we are all in — total uncertainty. The coronavirus has sparked a collective anxiety that taps into the utter discomfort we face in confronting uncertainty. The phased reopening leaves us all unsure, asking countless questions. When we can go back to work? When can we plan our summer vacation and to where? Will school reopen and what will it look like?
Ironically, for me, prior this pandemic, I had enrolled in some classes that deal with this very predicament in a formal academic setting, and it has given me some ability to step back and reflect on all this with some analytics. The anxiety, the grieving or the hostility may in fact all be part of a necessary cycle that all systems, human or natural, undergo when there has been a disturbance or a shock to the system.
Without getting too jargony, the revolt we are seeing occurs when an imbalance exists or when there’s losers and winners in the reorganization of a system after an event. The unnecessary death of George Floyd marks a tipping point of a chronic imbalance in the treatment of people of color by the police in our nation. Coronavirus, too, marks a tipping point in a globalized world that is too interdependent, causing vulnerability. Revolts to the stay-at-home order are a reflection of people’s response to the reorganization of society, leaving some winners and some losers. Rigidity, or holding on to the “normal” way of being, will not serve us well. We must adapt. We are at the beginning of this reorganizational phase and if we are to build a better, more resilient society, leadership and strong governance is needed right now to prepare for the next disturbance (which in wildfire country, is likely less than a month away).
Self-resilience starts at home, and now is the time to prepare for the impending fire season, or the next disturbance. Visit Methow Ready at http://www.methowready.org, follow the burn bans and red flag warnings, and sign up for alerts with Okanogan Emergency Management http://www.okanogandem.org/opt-in-page.