There is magic in us all. That’s how Jeri Fink sees the world right now, even in the worst of the pandemic. And we’ve got to give her credit for her positivity: Jeri was in Los Angeles when the world turned upside down, and because of the perils of travel, she chose not to try to get back to her home in suburban New York. So Jerry writes about the magic, from LA.
When I was a kid, I sat in the subway, looked at strangers, and made up stories. I collected the stories in black-and-white composition books and hid them in my closet.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood what the stories meant.
Stories are a basic unit of human communication. They reflect our feelings— good and bad— and translate them into metaphors we can share in the best of times, the worst of times, and everything in-between.
Consider what these stories say:
A young couple faced separation. They didn’t know how long it would last.
He was a pilot, headed for war (WW 2). Who knew what tomorrow would bring?
She was only 17. He was 19.
She left everything to travel thousands of miles and get married at a military base before he shipped out.
The sun smiled as they said their vows.
The park was empty.
Three people appeared: a young couple, a justice-of-the-peace, and a single witness.
The couple was supposed to be married but their state closed the government offices. Who knew what tomorrow would bring?
So in the middle of a pandemic, and a statewide shutdown, and an uncertain future, they held hands.
The sun smiled as they said their vows and were legally married.
Can you feel the magic, 1940 and 2020 forever linked?
Today’s stories surround us during the pandemic. Big, small, happy, sad, they’re part of each of us. There’s the teenager who put on her prom dress to show her grandparents, who could only watch from the other side of a window, how she would have looked if school wasn’t closed.
There’s the mom who leaves her family to take care of coronavirus patients in a local hospital.
There’s the little boy who canceled his birthday party and found a caravan of neighbors, safe in their cars, driving by with balloons, signs, and well wishes.
The stories are magical.
There are also ugly stories— a president who blames everyone else for his blunders; a governor who refuses to shut down his state and ends up with thousands of unnecessary victims of the virus; an Evangelical who opens his university only to become a breeding ground for new infections.
We need to be wary of evil storytellers, people who spread lies, convey misinformation, and revise history for personal gain. Like a leader who plays golf in his Mar-a-Lago resort while others are dying, and stigmatizes hard-working people who don’t buy his stories.
The best stories carry hope and empathy: Italians singing to one another from their terraces, volunteers distributing free bags of food, restaurants supplying meals for healthcare workers. Think of the New Yorkers gathering on their balconies every day at 7pm to applaud the workers who keep their city alive.
These days I write my stories on a screen. But screen or paper, the magic remains— the voices sharing their worlds. Their stories will help us get through today’s pandemic. Listen to them.
We’re all in this together.