Lost and Found In the Time of Pandemic
Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
It was near the middle of January 2020 when I first began following stories of the COVID-19. I was planning to be away on vacation for two weeks at end of February. We changed our plans to simple things, such as day trips and hiking. We spoke about camping. We chose to go places where almost no one else visited. We sought out the remote and visited a number of ruins in the deserts of Northern Arizona. We were on Navajo and Hopi Land.
One stop was made to a remote outpost manned by one forest ranger in his late forties to early fifties. He appeared lonely as there had been very few visitors, even before the big news of the pandemic set in. He was behind a counter dressed in a green uniform and a heavy ranger hat reminiscent of the Canadian Mounted Police. In the room were artifacts, pottery chards, broken things, remnants of a time past, and the overall feeling a death suspended by way of things that remained. He spoke intelligently with facts, figures, names, dates, and all manner of information. When we asked a question, the result appeared much like placing a coin in a juke box and hearing the song replayed once again. He was frozen on track with facts and figures. I call it loneliness because he seemed stuck, a skip on a record or CD, and this seemed the type of thing we might do when inhabiting the space of isolation for too long. He spoke about the land, the people who once lived there, and what likely killed them off. The usual culprit, he said, was disease, a novel virus, the thing that people had not been exposed to before. As we know, the Spanish Conquest involved many coming from Europe and with their coming came a virus or two or three. These were novel in that the Native Americans had not been exposed to these invisible threats and thereby had no immunity. The rest is a sad history, as we no longer have the Sinaguan or other Ancestral Puebloans.
I am a psychologist, psychotherapist, college professor in graduate psychology, and a published author of three books and one well-regarded dissertation. I love working with people and I have always had a fascination with phenomenon and understanding those things that happen when people find themselves in unusual and challenging circumstances and times. Most times I am in awe and amazement at the resourcefulness, courage, and candor individuals are capable of. I am inspired by the honesty on emotional levels imbued with wisdom that comes up at the most difficult of times.
In this series I am exploring what I refer to as the Lost and Found In The Time of Pandemic. Indeed, we have lost things during this pandemic. As I watch my brave clients and others traverse what all this means to them, I have also noticed all the things they have found. In psychotherapy we often look at our clients through many lenses. One lens is that of their challenges or risk factors and the other is their strengths or protective factors. Another way of looking at What we Lost and What we Found. Next blog will explore Part One: Lost and Found in Childhood/Kids of the Pandemic.
Thank you and have a wonderful week!
Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD