Listen to the podcast or watch the original interview with Mary Ann Handley on YouTube.
It's mid-March, 2020. The corona virus known as COVID 19 has been declared a pandemic. This post is not to provide information about the virus. I'm not qualified. This post is to share information about the “Spanish Flu” of 1918, as told to me nearly two years ago in an interview on my show, Page 1.
It was May, 2018. My guest was Mary Ann Handley, a retired history professor and retired state senator from Connecticut. A few days earlier, I had heard her speak at the Manchester Historical Society on the subject of the “Spanish Flu” of 1918, the third pandemic in world history.
I was, and still am, working on a novel that takes place during that time period. As a writer, I know that research can unearth the kind of details needed to make characters believable, plot plausible, setting vivid, and conflict compelling. Because Page 1 is a show for writers, I framed the interview with them in mind. My idea was to explore the details from an event in history and find viable story seeds.
One of the challenges around the flu of 1918 was that information was not as readily available as it is today. Because the news couldn't be disseminated with a tweet, preventing the spread of the virus proved impossible. We know now that people should have been self-quarantined. Instead, they gathered for parades and other large, public events.
Today, we do have more information and we have it faster than ever before. That brings its own challenge. Schools, restaurants, gyms, theaters, places of worship, and businesses large and small are closed. Many of us are self-quarantined. We worry.
I don't have an answer. I do have a simple ritual. It's called “Imagine: For All the People.” I based the ritual on the lyrics of the song “Imagine” by John Lennon.
Keep in mind that ritual is a visible act performed with invisible intent. My visible act is writing this blog post in which I tell you how I envision a world where “six degrees of separation” isn’t something we think of only when imagining how close we could be to someone famous. Instead, six degrees of separation is something we realize when thinking how each of us, the “ordinaries” of the world, is connected to another “ordinary” in another country, on another continent.
My invisible intent is wrapped up in the word “ordinary.” You might interpret it as meaning “nothing special.” I think of ordinary coming from ordinarius, the Latin word for “rule.” I want a peaceful, healthy, climate-stable world. I imagine six others who want the same: a teacher in South Africa, a shaman in Peru, a child in Australia, a farmer in Timber Lake, South Dakota, a soldier in Ukraine, a woman in Cornamuck, Northern Ireland.
My invisible intent is for my vision to reach those six people, and for each of them to spread the vision to six more people…and on and on. By spreading the vision, the whole world is eventually shaped by the ruling desire of ordinary people who envision a peaceful, healthy, climate-stable world.
Now it's your turn.
(1) Imagine something positive about how the world will be when this pandemic is over. Write it down. Or, tell someone. One person has already told me she wants a new administration in Washington. Another, a nurse, said she wants the hygiene measures we're taking now to continue, knowing those measures will help in future flu seasons. What do you want?
(2) Imagine six people in six different places in the world. Imagine that they share your vision of a better post-pandemic world. Imagine that they share that vision with six more people, and on, and on.
(3) Imagine that your shared vision spreads faster than Covid 19. In a time like this, when tension and uncertainty are high, it's certainly helpful to look at beautiful art, to read poetry, to listen to calming music, to walk in nature, to dance in the rhythm of your bones. It's also helpful — I think it's critical — that we add to the pool of positivity.
Dare to Dream. Imagine the world you want. Imagine it for all the people. If you need help getting started, use this ritual.
I've started a thread on Facebook.com/MoonRiverRituals. Share your vision. Who knows? One of your six people might feel the same way.