Recently I saw a meme in my social media feed saying dolphins had been spotted in Venice, Italy’s famously murky canals. I was filled with hope. I took it as a sign that something good could come from the tragic pandemic. That maybe by staying inside, humanity was making a truly positive impact on the environment. I was wishing for a miracle but sadly it was a myth. Granted, the canals surely look clear now that humans aren’t disturbing the silt at the bottom of the waterway, but there was no miracle.
Why were so many of us drawn to the Venice dolphin story? I think it is because we are being asked to do something that feels a bit helpless, so we are looking for something bigger. Staying home does not seem big or proactive. But my friend who is a doctor writes daily on Facebook with a simple plea for us to take staying home seriously, because it is the only way to flatten the curve.
Can inaction be an action? That is basically what we are hearing from financial experts who inform us that now is not the time to sell off stocks, or to panic when we see our 401(k) balances going down. We need to wait, hold on, not panic, and stay steady.
Inaction goes against our instincts. When something terrible is happening, we want to leap into the fray, make a move, take action. Yet we are asked to sit tight, stay inside, order takeout, keep the kids occupied, and don’t panic. It just doesn’t seem like it could possibly be enough, but it is.