Surviving These Turbulent Times



Anyone who knows me, knows I read a lot of books. I’ve read a lot about slavery, the Holocaust, World War II, Mao’s China. A little about World War I. I’ve read both historical fiction and nonfiction. When it’s fiction or a memoir, I have often thought, OK. This character/person just has to get to April 1945 or April 1865. November 1918. September 1976. I read with the anticipation and satisfaction of knowing when this person would be saved from their trials. They just had to survive long enough to see the end of whatever huge catastrophe or miserable circumstance they had found themselves in.


But something shifted for me when I read Clara’s War by Clara Kramer, a memoir of a Jewish woman who, as a girl, survived the Holocaust by hiding under a house with her family. Her story made me feel the precariousness of her world, the complete uncertainty of her future. I was aware in a way I never had been before that Clara had no idea when the war would end, how she would make it through, or even if she would make it. Hiding under a house with her family and some neighbors, she did not know if they would be found out and shot that day, the next, or the one after that. They did not know if they would get sick and die. And as time went on, they did not know if they would simply starve to death.


And so here we are. We are facing times like no other. The world, to quote a Hamilton song, has turned upside down. Most of the time, we go through our day-to-day lives thinking tomorrow will be much the same as today, but suddenly, tomorrow is a cipher. An unknown. It appears businesses are going to go bankrupt, people are going to go bankrupt, people are going to get sick, some people are going to die. We don’t know who. We don’t know when. Our unknowns have grown to monstrous proportions. We are anxious. We are heart-sick. We are afraid.


But.


People have gone through crazy times before. Turbulent. Destructive. Life-shattering. And people got through them. Look to those examples. Find hope in the stories of survival. Find strength in the resilience of people who went before us, who fought, clawed, hid, stood up when they got knocked down. Stand up and throw your shoulders back in a super hero stand—chest out, head up, hands on hips. Go ahead. Do it. I’ll wait. Repeat to yourself, “I will get through this.” Be like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and say it three times.


Do that several times a day.


Meditate.


Breathe.


Stay inside and watch something funny or uplifting on your favorite streaming service.


Play games with your family.


Check on neighbors (even by phone call). Support each other (but no hugging!).


Share toilet paper with those less fortunate.


Wait for the sunrise that comes after the storm.


Oh, and wash your hands.

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