Some mornings I really wish I could do a Rip Van Winkle.  The mornings when you open the newspaper (oops! I’ve dated myself) and all you read about is wars, murders, the effects of climate change, unrest in far flung corners of the world and protests – some, right on your doorstep.  Those are the mornings when you want to crawl back under your blanket and not wake up until it all blows over.

Rip Van Winkle was the protagonist of a short story by Washington Irving.  In order to get some respite from his problems, he drank a potion and slept for twenty years, right through the American Revolution.  He woke up to a changed world.  However, if I did do a Rip Van Winkle I would entirely miss seeing and hearing of the kindness and compassion shown by so many to their fellow beings. Seeing human courage in the face of danger and adversity would be lost to me.  I would never hear a little girl sing “Let It Go” in a bomb shelter in Ukraine.*  For a few minutes that sweet voice raised in song drowned the roar of the guns and the angry sounds of war raging outside.

If I were Rip Van Winkle, I would be sorely tempted to shut my eyes as I read of the ravages caused by plastic to the ocean and to marine life.  Plastic that is choking our ocean – all 11 million metric tons of it** – flowing into the ocean each year endangering whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other sea creatures.    However, there are organizations doing admirable work to save the ocean.  If I had shut my eyes I would never have known of them or the countless individuals who give of their  time to collect plastic waste from the beaches and the water.  Their efforts may seem like a drop in the ocean but, to quote Julia A. F Carney, “Little drops of water make a mighty ocean”.  (I am all about the water references just now).

The pandemic turned our world upside down.  Heroes emerged during this time, putting their own lives at risk to help and bring comfort to those who needed it.  The pandemic also taught us many lessons.  We learned to truly value our friends and family and to keep them close.  No one knew when the disease would strike.  It brought us all closer, united us in our fight against a dreaded disease.  We learned to value simple pleasures – having a meal in a restaurant, going to the gym.  Suddenly we couldn’t hug loved ones or shake hands.  We had to mask up and stand six feet apart just to have a conversation.  High school students had to forgo the rites of passage; even to-be freshmen missed the fun that is the first year at university.  However, there were some benefits as parents, who were able to work from home, got to spend more time with their children.  A new word entered our lexicon – Omicron.  Some words took on a whole new meaning – Zoom and Delta.  Delta was just a geographical term or the name of an airline, now it had taken on a far more deadly connotation.  However, the most valuable lesson was – Nothing can be taken for granted.

There are things in this world which make us want to weep.  There are also things which lift our spirits and give us hope.  So, “Wake up, Rip Van Winkle.  The world is a beautiful place.”