Just a small-town girl livin’ in a lonely world… don’t stop believin’ hold on to that feelin’
Those are just a few snippets from Journey’s 1981 hit “Don’t Stop Believin’.” And for reasons I cannot explain, I couldn’t get those words out of my head. Music touches each of us in different ways and we all find our own meanings in any given season of life.
And today’s season is one heck of a mess. For Alabamians, it started on, of all days, Friday, March 13, with the announcement of the state’s first positive COVID-19 test. That was a little before 10 a.m. and by the end of the day it truly felt that it was the end of the world as we knew it. At least that’s how I felt in my little world.
I spent the next few days trying to settle into this whole social distancing concept while riding an emotional roller coaster.
Then came the insanity. People headed to stores in droves to stock up on necessities such as hand sanitizer, soaps, bleach, etc… the most sought out item turned out to be toilet paper. At least the thousands of memes and jokes about TP hoarding brought laughter as news of the virus continued to get worse.
Once it was apparent that the majority of Alabamians for some reason couldn’t practice safe social distancing on their own, the governor and director of the state health department did the only thing they could do – made the decision for us with updated restrictions.
So here we are 10 days later, settling into what at times has seemed like a very lonely world.
But in the midst of this chaos and uncertainty, I discovered there are (cue Journey) strangers waiting. Some of the strangers are the men and women working countless hours stocking shelves, the truck drivers who continue to make sure the stores get all that they need, custodians and janitors who are working nonstop to keep everything as sanitized as possible, and so many more.
There are so many kind and generous souls across Blount County helping each other. Sometimes help can just be a simple smile. Sometimes all it takes is a little kindness to change someone’s day.
My help came from the smile of a stranger and a few encouraging words as I stood overwhelmed and crying while trying to navigate crowded aisles and empty shelves.
It’s amazing how a few kind words and a smile that Friday afternoon helped me finally see that, even amongst the chaos, goodness surrounds us.
That one small encounter reminded me of what makes Blount County such a special place. It’s the amazing people who are caring, compassionate, giving, and selfless.
When times get tough, we become one big community. For me that’s a beautiful sight as neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers.
We are definitely living in some crazy and scary times, but not one of us knows what the next second will bring, much less the next few weeks and months.
But I can tell you that I’m holdin’ on to that feelin’ of hope and I’m not going to stop believin’ in the goodness of the people of Blount County.
Mahatma Ghandi said, “The future depends on what we do in the present.” Let’s make our present count. Follow the rules, practice social distancing, wash your hands… but more than anything, be kind and be good and love each other.