My son has played video games for most of his life. Before he graduated High School, he took college courses in computer programming. My husband and I were somewhat concerned however when he told us he wanted to go to school for Narrative Design. First, we didn’t know what that was, second when we did, we said “You want to go to college to make video games?” His response, “I knew you would say that.” He was disappointed in us, and he had good reason to be.
To be fair, when I went to college more than 30 years ago (ouch) the field of Narrative Design didn’t exist. The first video game I played was pong, look it up. My son is about to graduate, and I feel like I am the one who has had the biggest education. He works his butt off, taking writing courses, designing games, working with top professors in his field and learning much more. I have also learned to trust him and myself better as we navigate into an adult child and parent relationship. My son has a well rounded liberal arts education, and he’s an artist/writer/innovator. More importantly he has honed and perfected his ability to work as part of a team, to identify and solve problems.
We have BIG problems; Climate Change, the COVID Pandemic and a sickening wave of hatred and violence towards others are just some of them. We are in desperate need of people who can problem solve, and who can do it in teams. These problems will not be solved any other way. My son has a new way to approach the problems of our world with Narrative and Game Design, and he’s working in teams with others, to put work out there and inspire others to do the same. I believe in him and them, they give me hope for tackling some of these big problems.
Here are some studies and evidence that support the above, including from the American Psychological Association.
Perspective in art is drawing in different dimensions and seeing different views. The 1918 Flu Pandemic killed between 50-100 million people worldwide. And it has arguably never completely gone away, becoming the seasonal flu we expect, with mutations that have occurred to create potentially deadly strains in 1957, 1968 and 2009. Some estimates indicate in developing nations nearly 300,000 people a year still die from Influenza and related symptoms. Perspective also means seeing something in relation to other things. During 1918 there was a World War raging, and so many deaths due the Flu were overshadowed by the deaths attributed to war. As dark as all this seems, to step out of where I am and use perspective helps, it really helps. The 1918 Flu Pandemic was devastating for the elderly, not unlike our current Pandemic. However, the high mortality rates in children under the age of 5 and in healthy adults age 20-40 were even more crushing. The death rate for people age 15-34 in the US was 20 times higher than in previous years. If perspective is to see more, view things from different angles and create a deeper or whole picture, it gives the point where you have been narrowly focused the contextual meaning it deserves. Hope is good, necessary, what perspective gives is tangible. Hope is an integral point in the image, with perspective, knowledge, history, evidence, and other pieces a multidimensional image emerges to see deeper, understand more, and create with meaning moving forward.
The other day I went to the grocery store, I consciously chose not to wear my mask and carefully followed updated state and CDC guidelines, given that I have been fully vaccinated for almost a month. I was still anxious the whole time, it felt wrong even though I was doing what I had been instructed to do by every health care authority and official. When I described the situation to someone else I know they said it’s hard to get away from the neuroticism we’ve learned since the pandemic started, everyone in the room agreed that was the exact description of how things feel now. As a mental health care professional the term collective trauma comes to mind. As a nation, and worldwide, we have a shared set of traumatic experiences regarding this pandemic and we are all still very much wading through that fear, anxiety, and hyper-awareness. I still had my mask, carrying it with me like a talisman for what reason I’m sure I don’t know. It never protected me, only the people around me. And so it became a symbol in so many other ways such as a political statement, which it never should have been. I took heart when a woman slightly older than me spoke quietly as we passed in the aisle, “I’m glad someone else is not wearing it.” What does it mean if you are wearing a mask now? Does that mean you are still feeling cautious, or that you are part of the group who refuses to be vaccinated. And so there’s a light, things begin to return to some kind of normalcy, but trauma and it’s after effects do not recede easily, with new and challenging questions continuing to rise.
I’m not really sure what to write, where I am or how my family will move forward in this current world. We are all vaccinated against Covid 19, so I feel very blessed. Restrictions are beginning to lift, but from the Federal Government to State authorities they still fail to give guidance. Leaving individual people, communities, shop keepers and such to set their standards and make decisions regarding things like masking and distancing. The world is still so upside down and confusing. We move forward, look forward, perhaps that’s all we have ever been able to do and the rest of the time we are surely fooling ourselves that we have any more control over things than that. Living each day, trying to remain grateful and humble.
As I begin to see hope with more American’s receiving Vaccines against Covid-19, and the possibility that we can come out of this Pandemic and begin to live our lives again, it would be stupid blindness to ignore an equally pressing public health crisis staring our Nation in the face.
There have been 147 mass shootings this year (2021) , according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as when four or more people have been shot or killed, not including the shooter.
The U.S. was wracked by a record high 610 mass shootings in 2020, the most of any year since the organization (Gun Violence Archive) began tracking the number in 2014.
Universal Background checks, requiring stolen and missing firearms to be reported within 72 hours, and allowing for extreme risk protection orders to temporarily remove guns from those who want to harm themselves DOES NOT IMPINGE ON ANYONE’S RIGHT TO LEGALLY AND SAFELY OWN A GUN !
What it will do is begin to check the uncontrolled public health crisis going on in this country, and it will potentially make my daughter less fearful to step into her school building. It is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE that it should be necessary the first day children return to school to begin with a lockdown drill. We owe them and ourselves a better world.
Senate Bill 90 – Extreme Risk Protection Orders
Senate Bill 88 – Universal Background Checks for Firearms
I feel the ice may be melting, even though temperatures are supposed to dip down into the thirties again later this week. My wonderful husband and I have both received our full course of vaccines, my daughter receives her first dose this week and when my son returns in less than 4 weeks we should be able to schedule him to begin his course of vaccinations. Slowly I am hopeful again, not rushing to engage in a life exactly like the one we had before Covid, but just to engage in life again.
Family challenges, struggles and coping. The phrase we use around our house these days is a quote from one of our favorite movies the Princess Bride. After Wesley and Buttercup escape the three greatest dangers of the fire swamp: spurts, lighting sand and the R.O.U.S. (Rodents of Unusual Size, you have to see these), they emerge only to be confronted by evil Prince Humperdinck and his henchman Count Rugen. Humperdinck pressures Wesley to surrender and Wesley counters that they will simply return to the fire swamp since after all, “We know the secrets of the fire swamp. We lived there quite happily for some time.” Our family has met some of our greatest challenges together over the past 3 months, isolation and quarantine among them, and we are thankfully doing well. We know we can be tested and emerge stronger, smarter. As our Vice President Kamala Harris has said, “Our unity is our strength and diversity is our power.” I am grateful to different friends and extended family from near and far who continue to support us. And I am grateful that my immediate family remain healthy and united. FYI you really should watch the Princess Bride tonight, great movie !
Like so many other families we have had our world upended in the past 5-6 months. Our home has always been a sanctuary, a haven from the outside world. While we were on stay at home orders, locked down, it surely didn’t feel like that. Forced into that situation our family found opportunities, we adapted. My daughter attended an online dance workshop, and since it had been moved to online there were attendees from places like Mexico and Brazil. An opportunity that she probably would not have had if it had been run in person. My son got a job online over the summer, writing in an area related to what he is studying at college. That lead me to use my degree, experience and skills to get work online, something I wouldn’t have tried otherwise but it works. With my daughter’s new mastery of technology she is doing all online schooling, dual enrolled to complete her Junior year in High School and take 2 college courses. My husband is a college professor and teaches online and we have been able to maintain our income, something I am grateful for every day as I read the headlines. We are left with home being a different place now, there’s a serious challenge to carve out that down time and leave the rest of the world on the doorstep when your work, school, everything is inside your house all the time. Finding respite, the time and place to recharge, requires new solutions as we continue to navigate this upside down world. I believe that home is not just that physical space, but the feelings, and that’s a premise we can build on and work with.
It has been so intense, unreal and yet at the same time painfully and brutally real these past few weeks. The 8 minute and 46 second video of George Floyd, a Black American choked to death by a White Police Officer with his knee in Floyd’s neck and several other Officers just watching as Floyd chokes out “I Can’t Breathe”. The Covid-19 Pandemic Continues to rage and perhaps was part of the dry and brittle kindling upon which Protests and Riots broke out all over the world regarding this death and so many others and the systemic racism that they embody. Yesterday I attended a peaceful protest with, among other people, my husband and my 15 year old daughter. Many have not been peaceful, with reports of children, the elderly, or disabled people being tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets and pushed to the pavement. I am so raw, but I remain open to continue to listen and committed to take actions to begin a process that will systemically address this racism and hatred that has festered for 400 years.
Four months ago I posted about a horrible atrocity that occurred in the Jewish Community, an attack on people worshiping in their homes. Now we are all confined to our homes. In the midst of a Pandemic, Covid-19. My son is home from College, and he and my daughter who is in High School are both completing the school year taking classes online. My husband who is a college professor is teaching his classes online. We are having groceries delivered via online. We even have hosted a Passover Seder online and have done Shabbat dinner online. It’s just so unreal, overwhelming, frustrating and I am filled with rage towards Donald Trump and his administration for absolutely failing to protect Americans and to do the right thing during this time of crisis and put the needs of people above profit and his own self aggrandizement. Still, there are moments of joy and time spent with family that otherwise would not be spent together, learning some important things about each other and ways to communicate and not communicate. I am so grateful to have my family, food, clothing, medical care, shelter, money. All the things that we need. Many people are not as fortunate, and the state of emergency has put those people who live right on the margin completely into chaos and the deepest danger. In order for this to be contained, for people to have a chance at life post this pandemic, it will truly take the power of people coming together and following safe guidelines to social distance, wear masks, and remain indoors unless absolutely necessary. The world will not be the same no matter what, the sadness of that hangs heavy. The light in my heart is my family and those who I see doing the right thing, and doing things to help others, many who have stepped up who would not have otherwise. That keeps my mind and heart and hope alive.