These are the worst of times but they will bring out the best in us

By Nils Ling

If you’re an Islander ‘through and through’ it’s a good bet you know Nils Ling or have heard his name. Mr Ling, who ran for the Green Party in 2015 in the federal riding of Egmont, is an author, playwright, actor, filmmaker, syndicated newspaper columnist and former broadcaster who has served as president of Film PEI.

I miss my grandkids.

I miss seeing them face to face. Tousling my grandson’s hair. Digging my fingers into another’s ribs and tickling. Catching them off guard with a particularly groan-worthy dad (grand-dad?) joke.

And sure, technology helps. FaceTime and the like. But there’s no way to hug or tickle or tousle over the phone.

So sure, I miss them in this dark time of isolation. But I’m as okay with that as I can be. Because the alternative is so much more frightening.

I don’t like being scared. I mean, I know nobody does. But this is a particularly insidious form of anxiety. Waking up every morning and doing an inventory: is the room warm or is that a fever? Is that tickle in my throat something to pay attention to or is it because I yelled so loudly at that idiot of a president they have? I need bread – do I need it enough to risk going to the store? Did that cashier just hand me a toonie crawling with something? (She seems like a lovely person, so of course she wouldn’t do it on purpose but all the danger in the world is invisible now).

And I’m not comforted by people saying “Look, we have it easy: all we have to do is sit in front of our TVs for a few weeks. Think about Ann Frank or the Chilean miners or …”. Yeah, I know. Privilege. I do have it easy.

But it’s hard.

I’m not in physical discomfort. I’m warm and probably too well-fed and I can usually stave off boredom with Netflix or a book or YouTube makeup tutorials (“It’s easy to get that perfect smoky eye look …”). I’m acutely aware that I’ve got it better than 99% of the world’s population and have no right to feel miserable but … here we are.

What keeps me going is the sure and certain knowledge that things will get better. That when we are backed into a corner human beings come out kicking and flailing and doing whatever we need to in order to right the ship. Someone who I might have teased in high school is in a lab right now and they’re discovering this nasty, sub-microscopic splash of protein molecules has an Achilles heel, and they’re on the verge of figuring out how to fight back against it and stomp it out of existence.

These are the worst of times but they will bring out the best in us.

Whenever something bad happened to me as a kid my mom would say, “Look, I know it’s hard right now. But damn, it’s going to be a great story some day.” And she was always – always – right.

So, we’re all in this together. We all feel the same way about it. We hate it. We’re hurting.

But damn, it’s going to be a great story. Someday.

Someday.

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