“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy.
For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger –
something better, pushing right back.” ― Albert Camus
April, in the year of our Lord 2020
The map of the world via televised reports grows ever more consumed by red blotches detailing the spread of our newest nightmare – covid-19. Sporting teams cancel seasons and tournaments. Museums, schools, and theme parks shutter. Mobs clean shelves of every conceivable item in preparation for a doomsday scenario no one fully understands. Government officials display competence or incompetence in various degrees in televised speeches. The world trembles beneath an upheaval unlike any we have experienced during our lifetimes. This viral outbreak threatens to rend the social constructs of our lives in the near future, and perhaps transform them in the long term. How we respond to threats and each other will evolve. Who and what we are will change. Then there is Camus.
I discovered his words early in my teaching career when, paging through a catalogue of teacher material, I chanced upon the above quote. The words overlaid a photograph of a spring flower emerging from the earth. In that image I found the spark of endurance to push back, for myself and for my students, against the pitfalls and roadblocks of our lives. How much more it means today, when uncertainty rules, fear scrabbles at the door, and common sense conflicts with the laissez-faire attitude of the uncaring and the deniers. The virus is pushing against us. We must hold tight to that something better, something stronger within and push back with the methods available to us. Only a belief in an essential inner light can lead us out of darkness.
For those who find comfort in faith, I understand that pull. God, manifest in many forms, extends a mantle of comfort and love to those who reach for it. For those who trust in science and fact, the study of cause and effect, of vectors and containment, provides a wall of reason with which to confront the pandemic. Regardless of where you find solace, it it Camus’s belief in an interior core of resilience and perseverance that will bring us through the crisis. And it is through art – music, dance, painting, sculpture, writing, all the ways in which humans create beauty — that hope survives. Our words tell our fellow citizens that we share this earth, that we face adversity as one species, that all the artificially manufactured arguments to divide us fail in the face of a novel coronavirus. Humanity is threatened. Humanity must push back hard against the wolf at the door.
Stay safe. Stay well. Be kind to yourself and others. Spend some of that indoor time looking inward. Find your invincible summer and let it shine upon your slice of earth.