Maybe

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, ET,  on his Facebook Page here,  and the video will be saved with all of his past Livestream videos here. 

Decades ago, there was a product called Serutan. A fiber laxative. At the end of each ad, the announcer would resonantly announce, “Remember, Serutan spelled backwards is Natures.”

My little sister and I, at the conclusion of a Geritol ad, would announce, “Remember, Geritol spelled backwards is Lotireg!”

Most of us are now suffering, if not from Covid, then from Covid fatigue. Most of us, though not very active, don’t feel like being at all active. Most of us are depleted. Our “surge capacity” is depleted. Please read Tara Haelle’s reporting behind that link. “Surge capacity,” the ability to manage from within a crisis, is meant for crises whose end you can see from here. We can’t see the end. So we have no way to restore our surge capacity. And it’s all long ago spent.

The depletion shows up as a mixture of anxiety, depression and ennui. The cause? A neverending series of ambiguous losses. Maybe we go out to eat once a month. But now not going out once a month is an ambiguous loss when stirred together with all the other daily losses we never realized we depended on. We always walked our dog with Jane and her dog Diamond. We’re sick of washing our hands. One Birthday Zoom party is enough. For a while we loved spending the day in our pajamas and working online, but what we’d give for finding a parking space, wearing a blue blouse, and eating an egg salad sandwich with a fellow worker. Sure we’re glad we get to read those books we’ve been putting off, but we’re sick of reading. We are sick of managing from within a crisis. We are sick of cancellations. We are sick of it all.

And if we have suffered the loss of any of the 200,000 who have died, are caring for any of the millions who are infected, lost a job, a home, a business, we’re among millions who are grieving or barely coping.

45! 45 who can only blame, offers excuses, and wouldn’t be able to spell comfort, let alone offer it.

Americans aren’t good at grieving. We’re to be strong, carry on, get over it, let time heal. It’s embarrassing to grieve, and amid a pandemic we have no way of comforting one another except to send over another casserole.

You aren’t alone.

Not only are we afraid for ourselves and those we love, and have a leader who cannot give us assurance honestly, but one who stacks the deck against us, we now must find, on our own, some way to sustain ourselves when there really is no foolproof way to do that.

What a true, deep hug could do. But we got nothin’.

Here we are, pretty darn well off if we’re lucky, and can’t find the energy to do a thing. Not even Lotireg can give us a boost.

THIS is the norm. I almost wrote “new normal.” New? We’re all feeling old and there’s nothing normal about it.

Surge depletion and ambiguous loss are real. Take two understandings and a spoonful of compassion each morning and know that the guy across the street is experiencing it too.

Maybe

It’s another morning, the sun
pulled slowly hand over hand
to sow its earth-bound light
dappling the grasses,
fuzzy whites, lady’s mantle,
lamb’s ear, and lying across
the variegated leaves, hexing
what we think we see. Along
the lily-padded pond, the frogs
with ever croaking gulp swallow
the light’s arrival. On the porch
the dog at peace between his paws.

–Jack Ridl

First Published in Talking River
Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Chris Clark has published a spiritual anthology, Blessings for the Backpack of the Soul. Chris had planned to walk the entire El Camino and felt having a collection of spiritual writings, poems, and prayers would help nourish him along The Way. Of course Covid struck. However, instead of giving up on the collection, Chris decided to have it published and give the proceeds to charity. It can be downloaded for free or ordered behind the link above.

Where are the books? Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

See all of Jack’s Facebook Livestream Videos Here.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

10 thoughts on “Maybe

  1. Hi Jack, I’m not on FB, but I am able to see your weekly livecasts. I enjoy commiserating with you, but I enjoy the poetry and inspiration more! If I’m able I always look forward to seeing you live. Thanks so much for doing this!

    • Hi Jill,

      Thank you for such an uplifting message. To know that I’ve been
      helpful to you in this way sure helps keep me going. It matters.
      Believe me, it really matters.
      XX

    • Good to know, Laurie. One never knows if one has
      finally come through with what matters. Thanks so
      much for letting me know. Sure miss seeing you!
      XX

  2. Even if you never wrote another poem (which you will) – you have given us a life time and a life line of poems….forever gifts that keep on giving!

    >

    • Colette,
      I’ve not received a more affirming message in the four years
      of writing these posts. Oh m, how much this means to me. I
      do get discouraged, and you have hoisted my heart back where
      it belongs.
      XX

  3. Thank you Jack for explaining the malaise!

    Here’s a great example in my life regarding what you are saying. We have a hot tub in a small shed with a door. The door is a 3/4 ths the height of a door – like a tall Dutch door. It is very effective in letting air flow in but keeping vermin out. Once a year – maybe- a bird will fly in and be stymied on how to get out. When discovered, propping the door open is an easy solution.
    But lately when I seek refuge in the hot tub I open the cover and there has been a little frog sitting right next to the controls. In the entire world which is our yard this little one has discovered a precious, warm and toasty little spot. It made me jump when I opened the cover and looked down and saw it. The first time it happened, that little frog was an “it” – and “it” didn’t belong trying to sneak into my hot tub. I scooped it up in my hand and summarily tossed him out of the shed. “Who did it think it was?”
    The next time I was again stunned! What’s it doing back in the same spot. Somehow that persistent frog returned. But now that little frog was a “he”. This time I softened just a little bit … I scooped him up in a towel – my attempt at being a little bit more humane – and put him outside the shed. This time I wondered about my being so mean about tossing him out on the fly. Do frogs land on their feet like squirrels? I am hoping so even tho I gave it no thought when I was so unattached to another form of life.
    I’m hoping when I see her again ( I want this frog to be a “her” because I will be more compassionate next time. Maybe- just maybe – she can stay right where she is and we can both enjoy the hot tub together.
    If I can live and let live (or should I say “ soak and let soak”) maybe that will be a doorway out of the malaise.
    Maybe that will be a sign I am reconnecting with what it means to be human during this mostly politically inhumane times.
    You’ll know I was successful if you hear me croaking on Sunday!🐸

    Sent from my iPad

    • Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy! This is a beautiful story that
      deserves to be made into an illustrated children’s book, Bob.
      Thank you for sending that great good heart of yours to me.
      So much.
      XX

    • Oh Marsha, how I hope and hope and hope so.
      If it is for you, I am a very fortunate and
      a very happy soul. You two have brought me
      such joy and stamina. My thanks are bright
      as a sunrise.
      XX

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