• author
    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • March 24, 2020 in Columnists

    World dips and the silence of the overwhelmed mind

    When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
    John F. Kennedy

    Unattributed photo from rawstory.com

    In the midst of all my quashed down panic — because panic and worry won’t change a damned thing — the place where my words are born has gone silent. I am operating on the most superficial levels. I play on my phone. Play my go-to World of Warcraft. Read. Get my human contacts via Facebook and Messenger. Learn to make acapella videos on my phone (see link at the bottom of this column). But all the words I need and want to be sharing — they’ve largely been gone.

    I think it’s the magnitude. And it informs me in no small part about why people do shut down in the midst of disaster. Why they sit, staring passively, at the Nazis holding guns or march biddably off to be slaughtered. Why they go about their lives and try to pretend it’s not happening when their neighbors are being hauled off to the camps.

    Ears in fingers. Lalalalalala — I can’t hear you…

    When I stare it hard in the face, it has the countenance of a rider of the apocalypse whose features are constantly shifting, just like the fiend in Stephen King’s “The Stand.” The face of evil is truly legion. Sometimes it’s orange and bloated with sphincter lips that move yet say nothing. Sometimes it looks like a simpering, gloating turtle. Sometimes it looks like a pious skeleton.

    Sometimes it looks like a Trump supporter going to a church gathering crowded with people.

    Sometimes it looks like a college kid at the beach who, if smart enough to get into college, was most certainly smart enough to know better.

    I have heard it said that the face of evil is as ordinary as a neighbor with a demonic face lurking beneath. (Caveat: I don’t believe in religious manifestations of evil like demons and such, but the analogy works.)

    I have said for decades — generations now — that life comes in dips and waves and please not to do anything drastic because the usual cure is generally a combination of patience and your own efforts to climb out of it. The waves nearly always return, no matter how deep and horrible the dip. One of my worst happened when AIDS took my brother and miscarriage my son only two months after that. In a generally painful (until recently) life, this one was the one that nearly killed me. And yet slowly, as time passed and with hard efforts at healing, the waves came back. So far, they always have.

    We are in a world dip right now. We’ve seen them before. Some are relatively short and shallow, despite being utterly devastating. The Vietnam War. The gas shortage of the 70s. The AIDS crisis. All horrific. All desolating. But they weren’t world-ending. They wound up being survivable, despite the terrible costs — and I was one who paid part of the cost of the AIDS crisis, so I speak with some authority.

    This world dip is more akin to World War II. Between our crisis in leadership, the blatant criminals currently in power, COVID-19 and the very real threat of the planet’s end — we haven’t seen a dip like this in living memory for most of us. The only people who will remember are those who were alive during the Depression and the world war. The rest of us know this only from history and the tales of elders.

    World dips are huge. They are deep and they are slow to heal. World dips can be and are often fatal to many. It is quite possible that a world dip could take all of us, although so far, obviously, they haven’t. More than seven billion of us are ample evidence of that.  But despite the survival rate, world dips harm us. They require almost superhuman endurance, mental/emotional/psychological resilience and agility not given to all. They require us to come together in an effort very similar to the USA in World War II where people did their part without whining or hesitation — for the most part.

    World dips also bring out people’s true character. You won’t necessarily expect who handles it and who falls apart. Who steps up and who dives into their shell and refuses to come out. Who gives and who takes. Who is part of the effort and who takes advantage of the situation to prey on everyone they can.

    I have a lot of compassion for people who need bolstering, shoring up. We all do at different times — that’s why people do so well in a circle. We can’t be strong all the time. Each of us has someone to lean on and so on. Some people won’t even be capable of reaching out for help. The fear, the sadness, the rage — the whole roiling turmoil of feelings can be so overwhelming. So we need to be paying attention to people. Not letting people slip through the cracks. We’ll need to put aside our petty grievances and bickering and step up.  It is also absolutely valid and often crucial to seek professional help. My therapist is a mensch and a godsend.

    I am seeing this already, even as I am also seeing the foolish deniers clustered together to share their contagion, as I see the orange carbuncle complaining about how long this is taking because the economy is in peril — he sure hates to lose a penny of taxpayer money, doesn’t he? He’s had to shut down his golf courses — waaaaah! And his lies…  The moment Dr. Fauci went full facepalm says it all (the glorious facepalm — rawstory.com ) — listen to the orange pustule, follow his advice, take lethal medicine meant for malaria — and die miserably. Oh geez — am I starting to sympathize with his base? No wonder we’re overwhelmed with a mango madman in the damned driver’s seat!

    In the meantime, take the time you need to strengthen yourself. Now’s the time for all hands that are able to get on board. We have an orange lamprey to oust and a world to save. It’s going to take work, but many hands make light work.

    We can do this.

    (Circle song improv — first attempt)



      • Greg

      • March 24, 2020 at 5:32 pm
      • Reply

      Love you Maya. F**k anyone who thinks this can be resolved in two or three weeks. This will last months, not weeks. I’m already seeing some folks either being drawn to the idea that what we are doing isn’t working or becoming paralyzed by fear. Shit, some are already planning to ‘cheat’ a little bit in the coming weeks. This virus is unforgiving and will literally ‘sucker-punch’ those who are stupid enough to listen to Trump’s unwise choices.

      • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      • March 24, 2020 at 10:38 pm
      • Reply

      Love you back. 😀 This will at the very least last until we have an effective treatment, a vaccine and at least enough equipment not to let people our age drown in our own fluids. And while the young have a FAR better chance of surviving, they’ve already lost children to it elsewhere — and young people. Cheating is stupid. I have gone almost nowhere, share all my germs with my younger daughter and grandkids and they with me and STILL I’m just doing Messenger video chat because what if it’s on my clothes? Or somewhere else when I’ve just brushed up against stuff? So many people are so arrogant — they think because they want the world not to be scary, they can make it so. I suspect if the US had had the same number of wars and calamities everyone else has had, we’d be a lot less arrogant. But we haven’t had much take place on US soil — at least nothing of long duration. 9/11 was horrific but the event was only one day plus long aftermath. But largely, we’ve been spared and it’s made us lazy, sloppy and arrogant. And people will die because of that. Makes me so goddamned tired…

      • Terri Connett

      • March 26, 2020 at 10:00 am
      • Reply

      PREACH, girl! This is so well written and all so, so true! You make me laugh and you make me think. You’re the best!

        • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

        • March 30, 2020 at 8:45 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you, love. Igualmente. <3

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