Can we talk about the elephant in the room for a minute? I know you’re all feeling it as heavily as I am. These last 18 months have been THE MOST challenging of my 20+ year career; and that’s saying something because I once used myself as a body shield to break up a fight between two girls (much taller than I am) in a lunchroom in Little Rock in 2010.
We talk a lot about surge capacity…that innate ability to rally enough hope and energy to make it through difficult circumstances. But let’s face it, our surge capacity is fried. The harder we try, the more challenges we continue to face.
It reminds me of a book I read to my girls when they were little. A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. I haven’t been able to get this book out of my mind for the last two weeks. It is the perfect analogy for what I think we are all going through.
This is Camilla Cream.
Camilla develops a bad case of stripes because she refuses to eat lima beans. Camilla loves lima beans but the other kids make fun of her for liking them. So she decides to quit eating them, and, in doing so, she loses herself.
Her case of stripes worsens and begins to extend to the world around her. Doctors and specialists can’t determine what is wrong with her. They can only see the symptoms of her choice.
The bad case of stripes consumes Camilla until she is totally absorbed into her environment.
Nearly all of her identity is lost until a wise woman brings her some lima beans. Camilla eats the beans and is immediately cured.
So what does this have to do with where we are today? Can you relate to this allegory? This pandemic is doing its best to steal away everything that makes us great; our joy, our tolerance, our culture, our power. It has in some ways put us at war with one another so as to distract us from being unified. Our isolation has been the perfect petri dish for the disease. And many days, no matter how hard we try to rally, we are just met with another no-win decision. This situation wants to so fully absorb us that we don’t know who we are anymore.
But there is an antidote. And I don’t mean the vaccine. The disease that ails us can’t be cured by a vaccine. The antidote is counter intuitive.
The antidote is vulnerability.
We are not meant to hold all of society together at the expense of ourselves. All of the specialists in the world can’t give you identity. Your identity is hard earned by the talent you give to this world. And nothing, not pandemic, not politics, not people, should be allowed to steal it from you.
What are your lima beans? What do you need in this moment to be wholly you? Wholly understood? Wholly present? Whatever it is, find its source and drink from its well. This world needs you, all of you, vulnerable you. We aren’t meant to carry it all. And we certainly aren’t meant to carry it alone. We see you. You are amazing and you are going to help it be better from now on.
Let’s Move FORward Together,