Is the pandemic stressing you out? Does the state of democracy in the United States make your stomach hurt? You worried that another glacier is about to collapse into the sea? World got you down, friend?
We took the advice of sage-poet David Lee Roth last week. Trampolines were finally in stock on Amazon. I went to work. A couple of clicks, a fistful of dollars, and then a large box arrived at our door. I spent hours in the backyard swearing and stretching springs. Finally, it was accomplished. Lo, thar she blew. A big old trampoline for our boys to bounce away their cares.
Might as well jump.
The last six months have been traumatic. So much to lament. My boys have gone months without seeing family. And friends. And people who aren’t Katie and me. Sure, Facetime and Zoom are constantly humming. We talk and talk and talk. But it’s a different thing to hug someone. To breathe the same air. To share droplets. To cough on and be coughed on. Lament, I say!
And school is something else. The boys start at eight in the morning. Fire up the Chromebook. Solomon and Samson’s teachers are saints. And I’m sure there are thousands of other such educators across the country. John Dewey, way back at the turn of the 20th century, described public educators as prophets of democracy. Dewey’s claim feels palpably true to me right now. Teachers across this country are struggling to connect children with other children, with big ideas, and with a social context despite the end of all things. I’m certainly taking a stab at such work with my college students.
School is a place where we shouldn’t be pressured to say or feel or think in particular ways but, rather, connect with and across difference to invent new ways to live in the world. New ways to understand the world. New ways to be better to each other. And Zoom school provides a shadow of that vitality, but you work with what you got. At least I do. And Solomon and Samson’s teachers do. The only hope for democracy, according to Dewey, does not rest in the philanthropy of the rich or the generosity of the powerful. Democracy can’t be forged by tanks or atom bombs. By anthems or rallies. No, democracy will live or die on the ability of our public schools to cultivate the participation of our citizenry in making and remaking the world. That’s important work. Especially during a pandemic. Especially during these violent, polarizing times in which people are busy shoving their conception of reality down each other’s throat. #this or @that. You know what I mean.
So, with all of that said, what’s a reasonable person to do? Well, in these dark times, as we seek out what everybody and their grandmother describe as a new normal, let us look to David Lee Roth.
I’ll close this middle section of my blog with a reading from Roth:
I get up, and nothing gets me down. You got it tough. I’ve seen the toughest around. And I know, baby, just how you feel. You’ve got to roll with the punches to get to what’s real… …so you might as well jump.That Van Halen Song…
There it is, friends. Roll with the punches to get to what’s real? You got it tough? Well, how can you get up in a way where nothing gets you down?
Here’s a thought:
The boys haven’t stopped bouncing since I erected the great trampoline in the backyard. Hours of jumping and screaming and frenetic activity. What a respite from staring into the Zoom vortex. So, what’s one way to react to this current moment?
Well, you might as well jump.