Wave Two–From 2020 To 1918: September 18

The doctor with a pen

Now And Today, September 18, 2020

The following conversation is occurring all across the United States. Employer to employee. Friend to friend. Family to family. Person to person.

Door knock. Or cell ring. Or message ping. Or Zoom call.

Can we talk?


My (child, other) is having real problems with (school, college, whatever). Can’t concentrate. Isn’t happy. Is struggling like never before. I’m desperate, I don’t know what to do. I’m looking for anything to help. I’m at my wit’s end. I don’t know what else to say, what else to ask.

Voice weakens, trails off. Face freezes, screen stops.

This is Wave Two. It’s not the cases, though they’re bad. It’s the learning, the living, the matching of the clock to the experience of the day, none or next to none of which is happening.

* * * * * * * * * *

Then, September 18, 1918

His hair is short. A knot of hair tends to stick up on the top of his head. He has an open, somewhat blank look. Don’t misinterpret that look. His eyes miss nothing. Every movement, every vibration, every quarter-inch turn, he sees them all. It makes you wonder what he does with all those observations. Where do they go in his head? Does he write them down on a chart he slips into a folder?

Dr. Williams is a physician in a modest-sized town in New Jersey. He knows that an “epidemic” of influenza is raging out of Boston. He knows that New Jersey has cases of influenza also, including a shocking 48-hour outbreak of 1500 soldiers suffering from the illness at Camp Merritt northeast of Williams’s home in Rutherford. He knows that cases have spread beyond the encampment to local towns.

Any minute now, he knows that he’ll soon see influenza among his own patients and his own neighbors. Any day the wave will come. He’ll do his best to be ready. They’ll reach out to him, asking for help, for the aid that saves their lives or so they think. He’ll reach back to them. Give them what he can, which isn’t much. He’ll listen, nod, grimace, whisper a word of hope. He has his own hope of the next event. It’s no more than that. Hope.

William Carlos Williams notices the people, nature, sky, and scores of other things that go unseen by most people. The illness which is spreading over his cherished land will pass the trees and take the people. He’ll remember the remaining parts of life untouched by the tragedy. He’ll point them out, sparing of letters but vivid in words. He uses a pen as skillfully as he uses his medical equipment.

One day he’ll capture it in poetic form. “Spring and all” is an expression for an era that wants nothing to do with what happened before.

Looking Ahead From Today, September 18, 2020

Our Wave Two is less a clinical event at this point and much more a social, environmental, and mental health event. In particular, this Wave Two is washing over, through, and into the schools of whatever grade and age and location. The stark imagery of William Carlos William’s poem “Spring and All” is, for us, in the world of learning, knowledge, and educational socializing rather than the world of health and medicine. Thousands of conversations occur each day that flow from this reality. Sadly, tragically, those least prepared are ravaged, those furthest behind become yet more removed still, those most vulnerable to cutting down are, unlike the trees left standing, falling to the forest floor.

We must be Williams. We must gather up our helpfulness and resources and go out, seeking to support. We must know that the bad is here and will not veer happily in another direction. Each moment spent avoiding this truth is a moment where a hand isn’t clasped, a voice isn’t heard, a heart isn’t warmed. The perfect will do what it always does—wait. The better will do what it often can—arrive on the shoulder of a friend. Let the partisans and the affiliated fight their fight. You have to move around them as the Wave moves around the trees.

Door knock.

For Those Wanting To Bridge 2020 And 1918, A Reminder…

Warfluenza and Warcorona.

Warfluenza is what Americans experienced in 1918 when influenza interacted with their dominant issue and concern of the day, World War One. The illness comes to them through their handling of and coping with World War One. That’s why I want you to think of it as Warfluenza. The pandemic and the issue affect each other.

Warcorona is what Amercians are experienced in 2020 when coronavirus interacts with our dominant issue and concern of the day, World War Trump. Regardless of whether you love or hate Trump, Trumpism, and the Trump Presidency, it blends with the illness and thus we handle and cope with both together, inseparable. It’s Warfluenza updated to our world—Warcorona.

I want to reintroduce you to the world of Warfluenza’s Wave Two because we’re in Warcorona’s Wave Two right now. We’re following Warfluenza and Warcorona on exactly the same days across 102 years. Mark Twain is supposed to have said that history doesn’t repeat but it sure does rhyme. Count me as a “yes” to that statement.

As always, I invite you to reach out to me. Leave a comment here, email at dan@historicalsolutions, or text at 317-407-3687.