Oscar : Ok, Mr. Truman, let’s say that we actually do land on this. What’s it gonna be like up there?
Truman : 200 degrees in the sunlight, minus 200 in the shade, canyons of razor-sharp rock, unpredictable gravitational conditions, unexpected eruptions, things like that.
Oscar : Okay, so the scariest environment imaginable. Thanks. That’s all you gotta say, scariest environment imaginable.

This excerpt from the movie Armageddon reminds me of my siblings.  In fact, our family speaks to each other often in movie quotes, and this one has come up time and again over the years.  Sometimes we change the phrase to “worst pain imaginable.”  And then we laugh about whatever dramatic moment we are having and move on.  The point is, when hyperbolic situations occur, we don’t want to know all the details.  It doesn’t change our approach to something that must be endured.

This pandemic situation is the most unique and extreme thing any of us have ever experienced, and thus the hyperbolic language permeates our vocabulary.  After weeks of filtering the onslaught of media coverage, the interpretations, and emotional commentary by friends and loved ones, I have landed here to make it simple: “worst scenario imaginable. Thanks, that’s all you had to say.”

I, like everyone I know, am overwhelmed by the fact that this pandemic is like acid on a wound for the socio-economic issues in the United States- and around the world.   I know that it is disastrous for a healthcare system that is lacking in infrastructure and support to the point that wartime decisions must be made about who lives and who dies.  I can tell that it is a nightmare for an education system that already woefully under serves entire communities and abuses our educators.  I am alarmed by the stats around the increase in domestic abuse when victims are quarantined with their abusers.  And as an individual who fears the loss of a loved one, this situation where the entire human race must comply in order to ensure the safety of the people I love, is the worst.

So, what’s it gonna be like out there?  We know enough, let’s focus on what we can control.

When I was playing sports in college we would get a scouting report on the other team in preparation for a game.  Knowing the opponent was respecting our opponent, and yet, the focus always returned to our own team, and the things we could control on the field.  Once our collective “we” gets clear on this pandemic being the worst-case scenario that it is, we can move on to what can be done.  Let’s get there.

I think of the things my family and my teams have been trained to do.  We know how to work with other people towards a common goal that eclipses our differences.  We have the discipline to play the role that we need to play.  Some of us are “impact players” on the healthcare frontlines, and some of us are on the scout team.  What is interesting about this situation is that- to use a lacrosse reference- most of us simply need to pick up a ground ball in order to do our part.  We don’t need to score behind the back or between the legs.  We just need to stay home, see no one outside our cohort, and wash our hands.  

I have heard questions in the past few weeks related to the yearning everyone has for a light at the end of the tunnel.  People seem to want an exact date for when life will return to normal.  I hear about varying levels of information that parents are passing on to their children, and the difficulty with keeping them home/occupied/compliant with CDC recommendations.  I want to jolt the self-pity out of people with reminders about the hardest things they’ve already endured in their lives because I know they have what it takes to move through this.  What’s it gonna be like out there?

Maybe it will be like the time in high school when my friend’s father passed away and I thought I could never go on if my own dad died.  Because when it happened to me, I did go on.  Many of us thought we could never move past the death, destruction, and shock of 9/11, yet we did.  I remember thinking I would break from the sadness I felt when I attended four funerals in four months last year.  Physical pain and emotional anguish have at times been things I thought I could not outlive.  However, barring the dramatic thoughts, life went on.

All of us have past examples of hard things we thought we’d never live beyond, and then did anyway.

So, what’s it gonna be like out there?  At this point, we know enough.  Let’s find a way to move forward with the things we can control.

Let’s go.