Breathe, and act.

Everyone, just breathe.

Take a step back from it all and breathe.

Don’t react… don’t just share the story that is enraging you because it is enraging you… just don’t.

Instead, breathe.

Take a moment and consider what you are about to do.

And then, if that is what your conscience is telling you, add to it. Share it. Act.

Just don’t react.

Act.

Make sure what you are sharing is worth sharing.

We’re in perilous times, and each of us plays a part. Don’t play a reactive part. Play an active part.

Just breathe.

And act.

Situational Awareness.

Situational awareness.

The other day I was talking to Noah about this. I told him that we need to be aware of what is going on around us, because being aware can save us from unnecessary harm.

I told him that it means paying attention. In China, you can be walking along on the sidewalk, minding your own business, and a scooter comes flying up from behind. If you aren’t paying attention, that scooter can knock you to the ground.

It means paying attention. Looking for danger where no danger seems to be.

It means paying attention when crossing the street, even when we have a green light. Because drivers might not be paying attention and run through the light.

It means paying attention.

It means understanding that other people may not be looking out for your best interest. Drivers, scooters, they’ve got their own goals. They’re not necessarily concerned about the little boy and his dad crossing the street. It’s not even on their radar.

They just want to get where they’re going.

They’re not actively seeking our destruction, but they are looking out for themselves. And if we get in their way, well, that’s just too bad.

Situational awareness means paying attention.

It means paying attention.

Pay attention.

Choose joy.

How’s everyone doing?

We’re in a global pandemic.

Life, as we’re shown it, continues to be ugly. It seems like some want us to focus on the ugly. Focus on the ugly.

Focus on the ugly.

It’s easy to focus on what we’re being shown. But how is it for you?

I hope that you are doing well.

I hope that you can find joy right now, even in the middle of all the ugly. And I hope that joy is real.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Even when what we’re shown is ugly.

I hope you can find the joy.

Look for the joy.

Savor the joy.

Choose joy.

Choose joy.

Choose joy.

Choose the joy.

Discussing COVID

Had a distressing conversation with someone I don’t know on FB today.

I know. FB comment sections and people you don’t know. I get it. I’ll do better next time.

But this person cited a certain study as proof that COVID19 was not passed on by asymptomatic people. I’ve linked the study.

This would have huge implications if it were true. It would mean that our shocked reactions to the Lake of the Ozarks this weekend were an overreaction. It would mean that much of what we’re doing… the social distancing, the staying at home, the masks… is nonsense. It would mean that we only need to worry if someone is symptomatic. That would be huge.

But I took five minutes and read the study. It did not suggest that the virus was not passed by asymptomatic people. It suggested that asymptomatic people might not be as contagious as symptomatic people.

So I said as much.

And then it was suggested that we all have different interpretations. We all have different opinions.

And my response is… nope.

That’s not the way science works.

Science tells us that the virus is contagious when people are asymptomatic. That’s science. That’s fact. My opinion on this this is irrelevant.

You can be hanging out with your friends and family and be carrying the virus and have no idea. You can be going to church and be carrying the virus and have no idea. This is the way this particular virus works.

You can have it and have no idea.

That is fact.

That is why we have to be vigilant. That is why we have to adhere to strict measures by our churches and others who are trying to open for us. That is why we have to do our part to protect those who may not be as healthy as we are.

It’s not rocket science.

And if I can figure this out, anyone can.

The Study

Irony. Memorial Day 2020.

Here’s irony.

Memorial Day 2020.

Remembering the sacrifice of those who came before.

Meanwhile, here we are, facing our own sacrificial moment, and folks are complaining. Complaining about wearing masks. Complaining about not being able to go out. Complaining about being told what to do to keep others alive.

And the real irony is that the ones who will be kept alive if we sacrifice are the ones who sacrificed so much for us so many years ago.

That’s irony.

Memorial Day 2020.

Reopening Churches

Once again, I wrote a long impassioned post about churches reopening, and then I deleted it.

This is just so complicated, and this thing of churches opening up has me at my wit’s end.

On the one hand, certainly the president is pandering. Right? He knows he needs the evangelical Christian vote to get re-elected. Making the sort of announcement he made today will help make that happen. There can be no doubt this is a pandering move. No doubt.

But on the other had, people leading churches aren’t stupid. People leading churches know the importance of opening the right way. They aren’t going to just open up and say, “Come on all! It’ll be just like it was before the virus! Come in and sit together and hug and pretend like it never happened!”

But it just seems so reckless. Even with precautions taken.

You need to understand my perspective. Y’all are still in days 50 and 60 of this thing. We were in the 90’s before we even thought about re-opening schools with incredibly strict procedures in place, and it still seemed too soon.

I can’t imagine any church reopening this weekend would be nearly as strict as what we’ve done in our school.

And you’re still in the heat of it. You’re still getting new cases every day in the US. We hadn’t had any new domestic cases in weeks when we started reopening.

And still, the president is encouraging you to reopen churches.

It just seems so reckless. It seems like pandering.

And from a distance, I’m at my wit’s end.

The Other Side is Coming

How are you doing with all of this?

How are you doing with all of this global pandemic that who would have thought that we would experience in our lifetime but really we all kinda figured this was coming because everything that was going on seemed to indicate that something else is around the corner asteroid collision alien invasion zombie apocalypse robots taking over etc etc etc.

This pandemic is so weird. Hollywood told us that this sort of thing would be exciting and scary and blood spurting and riots and chaos and mayhem and all.

But this is sitting at home and social distancing and flattening the curve and watching Netflix and wearing surgical masks and hand sanitizer.

So, how are you doing with all this?

It’s sort of mind-numbing, isn’t it?

That’s not something Hollywood prepared us for… the mind numbingness of it all. Mind numbing? It’s hard to capture that in a 90 minute movie and keep the audience interested. The Hero’s Journey doesn’t have a “the hero sits at home and tries to wait it out” section.

It’s strange, how reality doesn’t seem to be as much like fiction in this situation.

Reality says that sitting at home waiting it out can be harder than you’d think could be.

Reality says that sitting at home waiting it out can be pretty depressing.

Reality says that sitting at home waiting it out can take you down dark roads to dark places.

So, how are you doing with all this?

I hope that you aren’t falling into some sort of pit. There are lots of pits you know. They are sprinkled all around us like a minefield. The hero’s journey got that part right.

But I hope you’re avoiding them.

Because here’s the thing. Regardless of where you are and what you are going through and how you’re dealing with this, the goal is to get to other side.

And there is an other side.

All of this… this pandemic… the social distancing… the isolation the worry the fear… they aren’t a permanent thing. They’re only here for a bit, and then before you know it, we’ll be there.

The other side.

The other side will be different, for sure. But it’ll be the other side. We will have crossed. And the crossing, even in Hollywood hero’s journey movies, is always the hardest part. We’re crossing, but the other side is waiting for us.

And so, I hope you’re staying course. I hope you’re extending grace to yourself and those in your circle. I hope that you’re okay.

I hope that we’ll meet there, on the other side.

Nala Went Home

Nala went home yesterday.

She was picked up by a courier who would transport her to the neighboring city of Guongzhou, where her paperwork would be looked over and then in a couple of days she’ll be flying home to America.

Nala is a black poodle, and she has quite a journey ahead of her.

Nala is the dog we’ve been walking for the past three and a half months. Every day we would take her for a walk in the garden, me in the morning (sometimes accompanied by Noah) and Asena in the evening (sometimes accompanied by Noah). Koolyash did it when she had to, but she hated picking up the poo.

I’m more moved by Nala’s departure than I thought I would be. After all, it was often a burden leaving the comfort and safety of our apartment to go to the apartment where she was by herself, left by her family as they went to Oklahoma when the virus was just beginning, thinking they’d just be gone just a couple of weeks. That was back in January.

But as she came to know us, Nala’s greetings became more and more exuberant. She’d be waiting at the door for us and would bounce, literally bounce, licking our faces and wagging her tail so hard that you’d think it would wag off.

We’d put on her leash, and then take her out to do her daily absolution. We usually followed the same route, although we’d occasionally mix it up with a trip outside our apartment’s garden. These were her most exciting days, and she would stop every three meters to sniff the greetings of some other dog. Considering that she spent most of her time alone in the apartment, you can imagine how much she loved these moments.

And I grew to really love these walks. It got me out of our quarantined home, got me some vitamin D, got my blood pumping as she dragged me from scent mark to scent mark. On special days, Noah and I would walk her up to McDonalds where Noah would watch her while I went in to buy him a Happy Meal. We took her to get groomed. We took her to the vet when she had fleas.

It was a routine that became a break in the routine, and I will swear until the day that I die that it helped me to make it through the most difficult days, when we didn’t know where the virus lurked and if it would ambush us in the hallways when we left our apartment.

We haven’t had a pet in years, but for the last few months, we had Nala. And she grew to mean the world to us.

And now she’s going home.

So, while we are sad to see her go, we are overwhelmed with joy that she will be rejoining her family. It’ll be a long confusing trip for her, but she’s going home, and soon everything will be okay. We mourn that we won’t see her anymore, but we celebrate that she’ll soon be with her true family and be able to run and play in a yard in Oklahoma, with her four kids to keep her company.

And we’ll miss you, Nala. And although you will soon forget who we were, we will never forget you.

Bon voyage, sweet girl.

Who are the heroes in your community?

Who are the heroes in your community?

We all have them. The ones who are taking this extremely sucky situation and trying to make it better for everyone.

Who are they?

That’s what I’m wondering right now. It’s easy to focus on the asses trying to use this situation to increase their situation, but what about the ones who are trying to make things better?

For me, I see a bunch of teachers in China, who were asked to reopen a school after a global pandemic. These teachers are working together in such an optimistic and positive manner to do this seemingly impossible thing.

Not only that, I see the other teachers who are out of country encouraging the teachers in country by buying pizza and coffee and bagels for the ones on the ground here. It might seem insignificant, but it’s not. It means the world.

It might seem insignificant, this sacrifice, one for the other. But it means so much. It shows that we are together even when we are apart. It shows that we together even when circumstances say otherwise.

And it’s happening everywhere. People sacrificing for other people. People giving when this seems to be a time of need. People looking out for each other when this seems to be a time of self reliance.

There are heroes in all of our communities. There are lots of them. We all know them. We might be them.

This is what will help us to survive, and to thrive.

This is the chance for all of us to be a hero.

Be a hero. Make it better.

Bryan Adams and COVID19

Bryan Adams is the latest celebrity to cross the political correctness line. But, I’m not surprised.

If I was a celebrity I would also be saying all kinds of crap these days. I would be like, please people, listen to me. Help me feel relevant. I am a celebrity, for god’s sake. Listen to me.

I’d be Zooming and streaming and trying to come up with some way to do this whole pandemic thing better than the other celebrities. I’d be gathering old cast members, and rehashing what life was like before, and trying my damnedest to make myself feel relevant.

Because that’s what COVID does. It makes us all feel irrelevant. It is ongoing and oppressive and relentless. It reduces us to our dry bones. And considering that I was personally already irrelevant, I can imagine how it has impacted our poor celebrities who were relevant before, at least in their minds.

It has to be depressing.

They are used to people fawning… going on about how important they were… how important their music or their acting or their directing or their whatever was…

And COVID has told us that celebrity really doesn’t really matter. COVID doesn’t care about fame. It doesn’t care about wealth or power or politics.

COVID doesn’t check the IMDB page before pouncing.

COVID just likes killing people.

Anyone.

COVID will kill the famous, the anonymous, or whoever. COVID doesn’t care. COVID doesn’t follow celebrities on social media.

COVID just kills.

So I feel sorry for Bryan Adams, because he got caught up in the whole thing. He shot off when he probably shouldn’t have. He is probably just as anxious and frustrated and stressed as the rest of us.

But he’s also trying to be relevant.

I can only imagine how frustrating that must be for people who were relevant before.