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Accepting "The Except"

As smart as we humans are, we are not really good at accepting reality. Not at first.

Ever heard of the term "object permanence"? (Parents and human development experts nod.) "Object permanence" is why it's so much fun to play peekaboo with a baby. They don't grasp object permanence yet. You're there, and suddenly, there are just hands. And then you're back again! Whoo-hoo! Magic!

We mature, and we develop an understanding that just because an object is hidden, it still exists. (Except for my husband and kids, who are convinced that if they don't see the bottle of mayonnaise in the front row of the refrigerator, clearly, it no longer exists. I have offered to play peekaboo with them to teach them about object permanence. Surprisingly, they did not appreciate my generous offer.)

For the most part, we adults have, if anything, an over-developed sense of object permanence. We can go days without seeing each other, but we not only know we still exist, we still feel connected.

And then something very sad happens, and someone dies unexpectedly. What do we say? "But ... I just saw him Sunday!" "But ... I just talked on the phone with her last week!" Our brains can't wrap themselves around the fact that reality has changed so radically.

And so now here we are, living in The Except.

I had some tv shows on my DVR from last December and have been watching them. It is the commercials that feel so jarring. People in large groups together, preparing for Christmas or New Year's. They are hugging! Total strangers are gathering in large theaters, shoulder to shoulder! I gape. Surely that was from 10 years ago? No, just a few months.

It was just over a month ago that we still gathered in groups, in church, in restaurants, at the mall. How can that be true, and the reality we're now living also be true? My brain can't grasp it.

But grasp it we must. And we must continue to put in front of ourselves the reality of the situation, seeking out the best information, and avoiding those who seek to persuade us away from accepting reality. There are those who hope we are babies, and if they can just obscure what we see, we'll think that it is safe to gather together again.

It is not. The reality we were living was not permanent. (Nothing is permanent.)

We are living in The Except. And the sooner we accept that, and adjust ourselves to living in the current reality, the sooner we will be able to flatten the curve, and give the scientists time to find the medicines to treat covid-19, and please God, a vaccine.

The time for peekaboo is over.


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