I hope you are all staying at home and that your heart is not growing too weary. Our world has changed, this virus is still very much a mystery and over the next few months I truly hope we can find a new normal.
I am not writing about a song this time and it isn’t for a lack of music to write about, god no… In a time like this I find music around me full of magic and it helps me to find hope but I wanted to write about hope, finding hope in the humanity that surrounds us.
When I am not writing or enjoying time with my beautiful wife, I work at one of those neighborhood grocery stores, I am one of those essential workers that still gets to go to work and for that I am very grateful. The last several weeks have been a study in the human condition and how we respond to crisis. I and the people I work with have seen everything, from a level of hording that demonstrates a complete and utter lack of caring for anyone besides themselves, to a depth of compassion and caring that reaches beyond any selfless act I have ever seen. I will never forget the woman in my line that started weeping because she felt guilty for buying two weeks of groceries for her family of five and her heart was breaking as she stared at the sparse shelves around our store, I tried my best to assure her that she was not depriving anyone of their share of groceries. Believe me if you have stood behind a cash register over the last few weeks like I have, you know exactly what selfishness looks like. But like this beautiful soul that stood there weeping for others, I have seen human after human trying to find hope, trying to find reasons for all of this when there are none and I decided to try and capture some of that hope I have seen and pass it on to you. There is hope, there is an astounding amount of love in this world and one of the reasons I took this job a while back was because I thought it was a unique opportunity to spread some hope, little did I know how much I would receive in return.
Every hour that I work I see countless people who are just trying to survive and at the same time they are aware of others around them and care about their survival as well. I have completely lost count of the number of times I have been thanked for being there and doing what I do. I am surrounded by a group of people who are working as hard as they can to make sure you get food in your house. I see their weariness and their frustrations, and I love them for what they are doing. These folks are not making six figures, not even close, but they are some of the most caring and loving people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, it is truly an honor to be a part of this team. There isn’t one of my teammates that drives to work and thinks, “I am a hero”. But we all show up and do what we do. It might be as simple as making the rent, or something as other worldly as getting enough hours in for insurance. These are a collection of my hero’s; these are my co-workers and whether you know it or not we care about you and we feel joy when you find something that makes you smile.
Tensions have been high and not every customer that comes through my line is interested in me or anything other than getting out without catching something. So we just smile and try to give them a little bit of our joy. Overwhelmingly, those that come through to pay for their food are just like me, they just want to eat and live, and they hope.
This has been hard for us all, in as many ways as there are individuals who have experienced this. It’s kind of macabre, but I realized that those coming to buy food were having their most relevant social experience they can get right now. We will try and make it the best experience we can, that is what we always do here, so it’s kind of natural. We understand the tension and fear that you are facing, we face it every day we show up for work. We are part of your community and you matter, if you are struggling to find hope, I have some for you.
We will continue to stock the shelves after you leave and before you get there in the morning. We will answer questions and we really do care about you as a person, you are part of our community and you are loved. Food is part of the magic of love…
My hope is that the rabid need to count deaths will somehow equate to lives lost through this struggle and sober us to how we take our next steps. Those who make it out of this will define a new normal and my greatest hope is that the people I meet every day will choose to be part of the solution and ask, what can I do for you. Those who are working to fight this thing are our hero’s and we should treat them as such and at the same time ask ourselves if the fabric of humanity that is supporting and feeding this country right now should always be trodden upon. I am fortunate enough to be fine financially, but I have so many people coming through my line that have no idea if they will be able to come back for more later. Let’s remember those who are the fabric of our daily lives and that we all matter for more than the job we do. Vote every time you get the chance and remember this time we are in, remember how our leadership responded and make sure we have leaders who will see us through to the end without regard for their personal gain.
I am reaching for hope, I am choosing to embrace the beautiful humanity that I work with and for.
Part of my own therapy is listening to music and writing about it. I have two or three songs I am working on writing about. I encourage you all to put some headphones on and get lost in some good music, tonight it has been John Prine, this is where we are… take a listen to Mt. Joy, listen to Martin Sexton, listen to Jamestown Revival, listen to Roo Pane and yes, listen to some Queen. It all has magic that can soothe you, it can ease you on your way to a new normal.
The love I feel today is better and deeper than it was yesterday…and thank you to the guy in my line that gave me that gift card, you were too kind…
Listening, learning and growing…