February 19, 2021

I teared up twice yesterday. That’s not actually unusual because I’ve been crying a lot as of late. Things just build up and eventually they have to be let go. In some ways, if you look on the surface, my life hasn’t changed that much and is very safe and very easy. I have a job, a warm home, healthy family, the internet (can’t forget the internet). But, of course, the surface can often seem smooth when there is turbulence underneath.

That, for me, is just the pressure of the knowing. The knowing of the pandemic, the knowing of how the election went and the malfeasance of the Capitol insurrection, the knowing of hatefulness, the fires, the stress of Zoom and kids, the worry about friends in other places. Death is omni-present. It could come with a virus, a spark, an acquittal, a depression.

So crying isn’t necessarily unusual for me in the recent months. I can’t say I like crying. It always feels like vomiting. You put it off and put it off and then it just surges up and out of eye and nostril and throat. Things are wet and slimy and congested. It ruins your contacts if you happen to be wearing them, and your eyes are puffy and unseemly for hours after. Mascara smudges and sadness.

But, in good news (!) I cried twice (only slightly, a very respectable noble little tear-up) because of hopeful things. Things that I didn’t expect to get me to tear up but then, I felt a swell of strong and loving emotions.

One, was that the Texas chain grocery store HEB, well known for its public service, it’s absolute system organization in times of crisis (and just in times of crowded shopping), and its amazing fresh tortillas, just gave food away to people who needed it, people affected by the ice and snow and sub zero temperature. The store lost power while people were in it. No way to check them out, the food would spoil. So…go ye and eat! And the people went and ate.

This move was in stark contrast to our local Oregon chain grocery store Fred Meyer (owned by Kroger). In Portland the day before, a store lost power and so many perishables were placed in the dumpster. People flocked to come and dive in and get things needed, but the store put up security guards so that hungry folk could not access the THROWN away food. Nonsensical. The food is gone, Kroger/FM have already lost the money. The food is in a dumpster thus not on Kroger “property.” Let the people eat.

So thank you HEB and I surely wish you’d run for office. HEB leadership gets it that there is more than profit to be made. HEB leadership gets that there is more and more is what needs to be done. Time and again, I see stories about them which make me feel hopeful about what can be done.

The other thing was that the Perseverance landed on Mars. My husband called us all in to watch on PBS News Hour and it was so compelling in a way that is hard to describe, honestly, my words don’t really match up to the feeling. The amount of planning, coordination, science, project management, hope, and good luck that it took to get a little thing into our space and then off on a what..seven month journey to our sibling next door and then have the ability to communicate THROUGH that space with computers and signals and get it to LAND on the surface of this huge empty red planet….

They screamed and cheered when it was clear that little P had landed and I teared up because all these folks were working together-through a pandemic, through bad circumstances, wearing their funny little polo shirts and masks and they were making this thing happen and hope is at the center of it.

Hope that we can. Can what? Just that we can. Reach. Search. Discover. Make things better somehow. That what can be done should be done, and that people can, collectively, work together to go boldly and hopefully into the unknown.

It’s a silly idealistic part of myself that wept a bit. HEB and NASA aren’t perfect. But where hope is, there too so shall I be. We need hope, discovery, and good tortillas. We need leadership that gets it, that matters, and that is humanizing. It’s something I’ve wanted to give up on over the past few years, but perhaps I can’t give up, not quite yet.

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