“Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating fireflies” —Robert Frost
I’ve always heard that optimism is a choice, and one that will, should it be made, secure better health, happiness, and a world of good vibrations for those around you. But truly, as one who has always preferred the power of optimism to the poison of negativity, I know it’s an extraordinarily complex choice and one that comes with an enormous commitment to hard work and constancy. It’s not an easy path to follow.
And so it has been during the Covid 19 pandemic of 2020. The more overwhelming it’s become, the harder it is to keep one’s head above water. And the longer it goes on, the more surreal the situation seems, leaving little room for positivism of any kind. That is. . . until everyone started talking about the silver linings winking at us out of the gloom. Initially, I assumed I was the only Pollyanna voice promoting that old-fashioned phrase, but soon found it was popping up all over the place, as if everyone had read the same social media post at the same time. Each one of us has found we have a long lists of things to be grateful for coming from the challenge of this new life thrust upon us.
Writers and readers that we all are, I wonder how much of this will become part of our creative output, either sought for the obligation of remembering or wrought for release in the years to come. Although I know humans are fond of trying to make sense of nonsense, one might think the plethora of pandemic narrative might become overwhelming. But there’s a chance we won’t be able to stomach any more of it, turning away from those stories in full denial of them for our own relief. If so, only the silver linings will be left, and that’s not all bad.
I’ve started that list of gains for myself a few times, realizing when I got past the third entry that I wasn’t up to it yet. There are many things I can’t do now that I could do just a few months ago, and I cut myself loose from a responsibility to them to avoid the undertow. The trajectory of this immediate challenge before us is still ongoing, and therefore no amount of planning ahead will accomplish what we want: a new beginning with a hopeful projection. But we need to stay untangled from the weeds of anxiety and strong enough to be ready to move onward when the opening appears, which it will. Of that I’m certain.
So, the particulars of how we’ve dealt with the pandemic aren’t pertinent now, though I’m sure there will be plenty of historians to present them for the generations to come. But I think the artists will be the ones to tell a tale of how the silver linings lit our way, and how those fireflies of hope kept us going when we couldn’t see the end.