I dreamt that I was in a marathon. But I’m a sprinter. I hadn’t signed up for this race, and I couldn’t get out of it either. And no one knew how much farther it was to the finish line. I felt distress and confusion and saw the same in the faces around me. Terrified, I woke up.
I woke up to find it was real. We can’t get out of this and don’t know how much longer it will be. But is it a race we are in to get this over? I decided to go back to sleep and finish the dream.
This time I found myself among a flock of geese high in the air on a long migration. This was very different from the marathon. Despite the dangerous situation, it felt strangely peaceful. Geese can only migrate by sticking together and working together. The flock felt strong and committed. By flying together, migrating birds actually create the conditions that make such a long journey possible. No geese are strong enough to do it on their own. Flying together in formation, they create draft that eases their way so they can go farther and farther. They must stick together, simultaneously helping and being helped. Helping and being helped. Pulled along by their combined effort, they can go many times farther than they ever could alone.
This is how front-line pandemic workers are doing it. It is demanding, dangerous and of unknown duration. And it is only possible by sticking together as a team. Together, they create the conditions that make it possible. Even though they may not know the person working next to them at any given moment, they are in the same flock, honking reassurance to each other.
This is how the rest of us are doing it as well.