Will to Live
Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks had a classic improv routine in the 60’s that some of you may remember. Brooks, interviewed by Reiner, played a 2000 year-old man. Astounding.
In one routine, Reiner asked Brooks:
Carl: What has kept you alive?
Mel: Will T’Live
Carl: Ah, yes, that is the will to live is a…
Mel: Not “The” will to live. Will T’Live. Doctor Will T’Live.
I included this quip, yes, to make us smile. But also, to launch into this theme that we’re gonna be all right. We have Dr. Will To Live on our side.
Humans — and that’s us — have an amazing capacity to adapt, bounce back and embrace the new. We are resilient.
Life will no doubt be different, but it doesn’t mean worse. In many aspects it will be better.
There is an inverse relationship between information and stress. The more we know, the lower the anxiety and the more innovations — based on facts — will help design the future and ease our way.
It’s now a cliché of the last couple of months, but “follow the science.”
Human innovation will create not only medical solutions and therapies, it will produce architecture, design, technology music, art, that will ease our way and move us forward. We humans are resourceful, creative and come up with amazing stuff. (I’m reminded of how we felt when JFK said, “we chose to go to the moon.)
We’ve already seen how humans have adapted to the early most severe, stages of this pandemic. Social distancing itself, while severe, is an innovative response to a serious problem. How we shop for essential and greet our neighbors and care for our stuff — all shows we have what it takes to survive. Many of us were Zooming in the first couple of weeks of this and we hand no idea what Zoom was back in February.
With more information, we will learn how to respond even better. (I know longer wash my caps after each run, for instance or wipe my steering wheel after each ride).
Look, change is hard. But taking a peak back thousands of years, we humans have found a way through every tragedy and catastrophe. We’re just that kind of species.
We talk about the “new normal.” But soon, it will be “normal,” different, perhaps, but filled with the routine, joys, traffic jams, wonderful and rude waiters, people who bother you and people who will make you laugh.
We will hug our kids again.
We will go on airplanes and vacations.
We will have family and class reunions.
We will go to the movies, concerts, plays.
We will scream at refs.
We will spend the nights with the once we love again.
We will complain about not getting a high enough raise or getting a C when it should have been a B+.
We will live without fear (other than the usual stuff).
We’ll get pissed when we ask for a pound of swordfish and the guy asks, “will a little over be okay?”
None of this will mitigate the horror we are experiencing and the frustrations of governmental response. It doesn’t mitigate our current fears. And certainly there will be another thing added to our list of what we need to be cautious of.
But we will get through this. It is within our nature and our capability.
Some things may be better. We may even be kinder. We may have a deeper appreciation for life and each other. We will connect with people we have wanted to for years but never have. We may get universal healthcare because we will learn we are all in this together. We may not shake hands for a while but I’m sure a pat on the back will be okay. (Handshaking may be over-rated, anyway, as it allegedly began to show the on coming person you have no weapon in your hand.)
Isabel Allende, the renowned Spanish writer puts it well:
“We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome.”
And to that I’ll say, amen.
Will to Live by Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks
What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, the video
Back in the High Life Again by Steve Winwood