Snakes or Worms?

Snakes or Worms?

By: Blaney Pridgen

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

A grown granddaughter reminded me the other day of a story I am fond of telling about her mother’s childhood. My daughter loved critters and everything about nature.  When she was seven she brought me a tiny snake in her hand. It was wiggling.  She asked me, “Daddy is this ‘nake or a wum?” It was a snake not a worm and appeared poisonous.  I batted it out of her grubby hands and pulled her away. I instructed her that we discern snakes from worms without immediately handling them.

This virus epidemic is a “nake and wum” time.  Ferreting out the good and necessary advice and warnings from the hyperboles, histrionics, and hysterics requires a non-anxious presence of John Wayne proportions. Invisible destroyers are scary.  Creator of horror movies know this. The dark blue and greenish sky creeping up over the west sends an airless chill before the storm.  Gather up toilet paper like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Gather the kids home from school as a single parent wonders what to do. Wash your hands and huddle in the cellar ‘til the storm passes through.  Can there be some sensible creature that is neither snake or worm?  How do we handle this crisis?

There is something in the shadows here.  We handle death with both fascination and denial.  In our rebuttal of the obvious, we know that some of us will die but not all of us, and we will probably (possibly?) be among the latter.  Events like these lead us to lift up the astro turf that hides the red clay that will soon cover the coffin that costs too much.

When dangers present and we are afraid, we become either kind or mean and not much in between. Mean means irritable, overprotective, grabby, self-absorbed, and worried. Kind means sensibly optimistic, reasonably prepared, trusting the trustworthy, and soldiering on.  There is such a thing as grim gaiety that buffers us from the mean streaks in survivalism. All will go down to the grave one way or another, yet we make our song “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” Scared and mean just wastes energy.

Looking around and listening I am seeing and hearing snakes called worms and worms called snakes. The days ahead will require careful handling.