May 1, 2020
What a whirlwind the past six weeks had been. Six weeks ago I was coming off my first live radio interview in Biloxi, MS while waiting to hear about a possible story for a TV station in Tampa. The Get Well America Tour was entering a new phase – well, almost.
During the “waiting to hear” period it became clear that I needed to be thinking about other things, like suspending the tour. The instruction came through loud and clear one very long night, followed by an early morning text from my son Michael, suggesting it might be time to start heading back to Denver, noting the ramping up of covid-19 in the states and how it would be better for me to be somewhere I could hunker down for a while.
Hence I began what I saw as a slow journey home, driving four hours each day tending to Little Library drops along my way. My evening vistas and morning awakenings were beautiful, enjoying a spot “way down upon the Suwannee River” and another in an outpost camp of the Army Corps of Engineers. I continued this way for three nights. I awoke the forth morning, with a start, canceled my plans to meet up with an old friend in Montgomery, Alabama and hightailed it back to Denver.
I barely touched Arkansas, same with Oklahoma, but am nonetheless most grateful for each. In Arkansas I drove into the hills in search of a safe place to rest for the night at a National Park. As I approached the entrance I was stopped dead in my tracks. The road was completely underwater. While I did experience disappointment, it was overwhelmed by gratitude for being stopped before I was on the other side. I could just imagine my panic had I awakened to a flooded road and being trapped in the park until the water abated. For someone in a hurry, that would not have been good.
A couple of hours later, more gratitude, this time in Oklahoma, for an accepting Walmart parking lot. where exhausted, I fell into a deep sleep.
While driving to Denver the next day, I had over twelve hours to I wondered how kind I was being to myself. Why was I so determined to arrive home so fast? I wondered about the Get Well America Tour and message of kindness I felt compelled to share. How would it go forward? Would it go forward?
I arrived in Denver, the evening of March 15th to a once lively apartment complex that was now completely shut down. While the executive order from the governor to shelter in place was not to come for 11 days, it was already happening in a big way.
I rushed to prepare Little Miss Red for an upcoming freeze and repair her back latch and replace a broken crown for myself. Once accomplished, I fell asleep for days, exhausted from the drive, the anxiety, and the sudden change in life.
For the next four weeks I moved in and out of the different symptoms, moving me gently up and down as if on a child’s rollercoaster. When I was up I marveled at the new round of commercials offering compassion, hope and possible help. I was thrilled that the very message of the Get Well America Tour, the one that joined a small choir that has been singing out loud, was being so prominently displayed on commercials, news broadcasts and social media.
When I was down I went through only what I could describe as an exploratory mission of the virus. Every four or five days I would develop a different symptom, in a different system. It began with a sore throat, attacking one side then the other, then both. Unsuccessful at gaining a foothold in my respiratory system it went after others. My digestive system went funky for a while, then my neurological system, including passing out and dizziness, my kidneys went into overdrive and my body became dehydrated. All wrapped in days and days of sleeping.
It had only been two weeks earlier that I had celebrated my first Fat Tuesday in New Orleans…on Bourbon Street. Oh yes, I was right there in the thick of it. So I realized that I needed to take these symptoms seriously even though most relatively mild and none sever enough to require a test.
During the past week, I have, with the exception of yesterday, felt good enough to engage in all my daily activities to include dancing. When there is dancing, life is good for me!
And with that, I come back to the Get Well America Tour. I was definitely heartened when the early stay-at-home messages from corporations and media were touting kindness and gratitude. I had begun to believe that my tiny little voice was no longer needed and with my ability to reach out and touch someone in person greatly diminished, I needed to find new way to support America as it Gets Well.
And then it began to happen. All the anger and hate and division that I encountered on a daily basis when I was on tour reappeared and with increased force and determination. The corporate messaging about kindness and gratitude began to recede and I realized that my little voice and acts of kindness along with any and all others were needed even more than before.
So the Get Well America Tour continues in Denver. And rather than venturing into states, I will venture into neighborhoods, first in Denver, then the Front Range and who knows maybe even the other side of the mountains. With books in tow and a map of little libraries, I will share what I have come to know about being the best we can be all the while looking for opportunities to offer a little kindness.
Please, be kind to yourself first, then to others. We can all increase our kindness quotient and we will all be better off for it. Thank you for your kindness!