Calling all ’90s kids…everything you need to survive the sheer insanity of this year can be found in a classic, if not a touch dated, Robin Williams movie. Who knew!? (High-waisted tapered leg jeans and obligatory flannel shirts not included.)
Cheaters Never Prosper
As a kid, the moment that stuck with me the most from this movie (other than the giant spiders, but we can just pretend that never even happened. Yes? Good? Okay.), was when Peter tried to cheat and end the game quickly…and turned into a monkey for his troubles. Real talk: it completely freaked me out. As an adult now living in ‘pandemic times,’ those circumstances still give me pause for thought. You just can’t skip ahead. You can’t skirt over the hard parts, or the sacrifice, or the fears. You have to play through it. The way I see it, it’s much the same with the 2020 world we’re living in right now: there’s no magical way out, no cheating that will help us all win. We have to play smart, play as a team, and not go all maverick and break the rules left, right and center. That doesn’t end the game more quickly, it just makes it all more…weird and super not fun.
2. You Can’t Just Quit the Game
See above for possible, horrifying animorph consequences. Needless to say though, there is no ‘quitting’ as much as we’d like to think the choice is ours to make. I’ve learned from observing the ebbs and flows of restrictions, statistics, and the response of the general public through each wave of this thing, that we can pretend all we like, but avoidance and denial have consequences. We’ve gotta do this together and see it through. In the timeless (if not a little harsh) words of Alan Parrish, “Whatever it is, you face it like a man”…or Mom, ’cause we’re pretty darn brave too.
3. Chaos Brings Out the Worst (and the best) in People
Which stock character camp do you fall into? Are you the ‘running down the street screaming’ character? The ‘time to take advantage and get all you can for yourself out of this situation’ character? Or the ‘I can help make this better’ character? Choose wisely…
4. Keep Your Ear to the Ground (and move quickly)
Remember the stampede? The rattling rubble and dust that signaled to our much beloved cast that danger was imminent, and rapidly moving in their direction? Much like that subtle vibration of peril in the movie, the highs and lows of this thing signal their direction with little BUT SOME warning. Keep your ear to the ground and be ready to change your path as need be. The more we learn, the better we can prepare for each random pocket of weirdness.
5. Facing Your Fears Will Change You Forever
Hunter Van Pelt: “Aren’t you afraid?”
Alan Parrish: “I’m terrified. But my father says you should always face what you’re afraid of.”
Have you grown at all through this pandemic? As a person? A spouse? A parent? A friend? I’d bet everything that you have. I’d bet everything that despite feeling the opposite half the time (I speak for myself here), you are less fragile, less rattled, and more considerate than you were before this all began. That’s not me judging pre-Covid you and me; that’s me saying that one way or another we are all getting a new layer built into us, one that could, if we let it, help shape a more considerate, grateful society on the other side of all this mess. Think about it.
6. There Will Always Be Nay-Sayers
We each have to walk our own path, right? Stay in our own lane? One thing I’m learning through this is that I can pile all the energy I want into outrage or frustration at others for not choosing to deal with this situation in certain ways, but it will never change the fact that I can only handle myself and my own family. I cannot change how others play the game. Just like disbelief and denial proved a sticking point for our protagonists in the movie (Aunt Nora comes to mind), it didn’t stop them from seeing it through and walking the path THEY knew to be right. We can only do what WE can do. There’s power in that and there’s power in learning not to judge others too harshly as well.
7. Your Team Makes the Difference
Not one of our main characters could have reached the end of that game without the help of the others on their team. Every single one of them NEEDED to be saved in one way or another, and since they were a strong unit, their help was ready to go when things got crazy (and crazy they got). Look around you. Is your team strong, brave, communicative, and in line with your game goals? Or do you have missing players?
8. Things Change (and get weird) Quickly
I think at this point we can all just agree that stuff gets weird really quickly in 2020. It’s hard to know what to follow, what to believe, who to listen to and who to flat out ignore. There’s really no advice here; just a heads up that we’re all a little freaked out about how this year has gone so far, so there’s some solidarity in that.
9. Learn to Adapt
See above. Things are strange. They feel like they’re changing all the time, not often for the better. It doesn’t feel good to any of us. At this point though, I think a lot of us have figured out how to return to a version of the life we lived, without assuming an overly alarming amount of risk. Our family takes day trips, works, and runs into stores when we want to. We just make a judgment call as to whether it’s the opportune moment to do so. If it’s busy, then it’s a “not right now” situation. Side effect of this is our kids are learning ALL kinds of patience. We’re all used to masks and staying in our own six foot bubble now. It’s just ‘the way.’ We adapt.
10. Don’t Cut Your Own Hair in Quarantine
Because Alan Parrish de-bearding himself after coming out of the jungle as a fully fledged adult still haunts me. Ouch.