Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

 

While whiling away the Memorial weekend, I picked up an old Forbes magazine from March 2019. On the last page, called “Last Byte,” was a pictograph of “What Scares the World.” Extreme weather events topped the list, followed by color-coded towers including “Cyber Attacks” and “Global Governance Gaps.” The latter comes closest to the thing we should have been scared about: a new virus that would attack the world, sending us skittering into our homes and causing a ruckus about whether or not wearing a face mask is patriotic.

Missing the parade

On this Memorial Day 2020, I am thinking about patriotism. I miss our town’s little Memorial Day Parade, made up mostly of Brownies and Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, high school bands and local politicians. We usually would be moseying up to Warrenville Road right about now, taking our dog Peanut (RIP), maybe dragging chairs but probably not. Since we live so close to the parade route, and the parade was short, it’s easy to stand and watch, then turn around and mosey home. We would stay for the ceremony in the graveyard where the Scouts would place wreaths on the graves of the most current fallen. A speech by the VFW representatives, a few words from the mayor, and then “Taps,” which always makes me cry. I miss being there today.

The Forbes magazine feature proves that Mark Twain was right. He’s known for saying, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe. I have spent most of my life worrying about things that have never happened.” For all the things I have worried about over the past year, a pandemic was not one of them. Pandemics were reserved for sci-fi books and movies I would never read or watch if given the choice. Climate change? Yes. Income disparity? You betcha. But before this year, it never would have occurred to me to waste my time worrying about a small bug that would travel the world, compliments of mismanaged governments and lack of trust between countries and scientists.

Creating a haven

So this Memorial Day, instead of watching our little burg’s parade, I’m home painting the music room. I picked a lovely grey that my family says is too dark, but to me, it’s just right. The color is a moody backdrop to our times, rich and just the right shade of grey that includes some blue and maybe even a hint of purple. When it’s dry and the white trim is done, I’ll hang a bargain quilt I bought, rescued really, from a local thrift store. Appliqued with irises on a nearly-white background and exquisitely hand-quilted, this beauty will hang on the east wall. The quilt will add light and absorb sound, making the music room a haven from this pandemic storm.

Worry is the opposite of faith. Worry implies we have control, that by furrowing our brows and obsessing, we somehow can have an effect on a world that’s spinning from the impact of COVID-19. All we can do is react to that impact with good sense and good will, holding fast to what’s familiar and willing ourselves to create something new. There’s no doubt, it’s a new world. Survival of the species, according to Mr. Darwin, requires the ability to to adapt to our surroundings. Find what’s good, focus on being one of “the helpers,” and don’t worry.

Happy Memorial Day.

[Photo: Painting by Ellsworth Kelly, Red White and Blue,” photo taken at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City]