Everywhere you look and on every radio broadcast, televised news program — even across the entire social media stratosphere — the world at large, we in particular, continues to be bombarded with conversations and debates about the coronavirus pandemic. And given the advice and conclusions of the leading scientists and health experts, not to mention the provocative prognostications belched out like doomsday declarations by self-appointed soothsayers, if we don’t change our normal routines, we’re in big trouble.
It’s like Whoopi Goldberg said in a film that always leaves me gasping for breath in a puddle of tears when the alleged fortuneteller exclaims, “Molly, you in danger, girl.” Yes, by all reports and from everything we see, we hear, we feel — we, the human race, appear to be in grave danger. But enough of that.
If I were to believe the hype, I might be inclined to pull out what few strands of hair may remain on my bald head. But as my “master tape” runs, I cannot ignore something my mother always said to me in times like these: “Just spit in your hands, baby, and take a fresh hold.”
And so, I’ve done just that.
There’s no questions that America and our global neighbors remain prisoners, held captive by an invisible enemy, the coronavirus, whose deadly impact has us locked in its grasp, imprisoning the world in this new-age state of emergency.
Yet, as one of my sage advisers, Dr. Cornel West, writes in his seminal text, “Hope of a Tightrope,” “these are the circumstances that people of conscience must operate under during this moment of national truth or consequences.”
Indeed, as a Black man of faith, I have no doubt that “trouble don’t last always.” On the contrary — when, as Brother Kirk Franklin and God’s Property proclaim, “And when I think about your [God’s] goodness, it makes me wanna STOMP.”
My concern remains with the children in our nation — those high school seniors whose commencement ceremonies, trips to Disney World, Cedar Point (an amusement park located in the Midwest) and Six Flags, or proms and graduation parties, have all been canceled. For them, it’s not about safety or self-isolation. For youth who tend to live in the here and now and often venture out as if they were invincible, now is the time for fun. Who cares about tomorrow, many ask? What about today?
I wish I could wave a magic wand or call upon a miracle tantamount to Moses as he parted the Red Sea. But as the “old man” of my clan with wisdom and six decades of stories about “how I got over,” I can’t allow my children or my two grandsons to exercise their proclivity toward meandering down pathways of self-indulgence. If I have learned anything from my parents and the ancestors before them, I understand that how we face today’s tests and trials will determine not only what tomorrow looks like but if we will survive to celebrate tomorrow at all.
Returning to Dr. West: “We are talking about the state of young souls: culturally naked, with no safe moorings, these children with no cultural armor to protect them while navigating the terrors and trauma of daily life. Young people need a community to sustain them, so that they can look death in the face and deal with disease, dread and despair.”
And so, I act silly with my grandsons. I listen as my daughter, Jasmine, and my son, Jared, call their Daddy — wondering how I’m doing in this age of coronavirus — and tell them, “Everything is fine” — an answer I’d give even if fear and doubt had temporarily overwhelmed my sense of today.
School bells are not ringing for now. The clanging of lockers being slammed shut have been exchanged for somber sighs from children who wish they were back in school, back in the gym for basketball practice with their teammates or on lush, green fields catching fly balls with the rest of the baseball squad.
Thus, I am reminded of my ultimate mission — the job that I must hold sacred and execute as such — my role as father/grandfather to my biological offspring and the little sisters and brothers who have grown to trust me and see in a similar light.
Nikki Giovanni, in “Podcast for Bicycles,” offers these thoughts.
“I loved my Mother’s cool hands on my forehead. I loved the safety of her arms I trusted before I understood the word. Mommy would say when I had fallen: ‘Come here, Nikki, and I’ll pick you up.’”
God, I miss the sounds of children’s laughter, my children’s laughter. But, I am poised and prepared, standing in the curtains, ready to pick them up — when the new world, the post-age of coronavirus, comes.
Because, as I’ve already mentioned, I miss the sound of children’s laughter.