From The Pandemic And The Turning Of The Earth–Point Two of Eight

Yesterday I began an eight-part series on my main thoughts looking back on a year of pandemic. To remind, the previous twelve months were my primary theme in my most recent edition of my weekly show “Today In Leadership History” (seen on Facebook Live).

I won’t repeat the list of six items that made March 11, 2020 such a historic day. You’ll find them on this blog, the prior entry.

Let’s get to today’s entry.

Point Two of Eight: From The Pandemic And The Turning Of The Earth Since 3-11-2020

The Waves of the pandemic are deceiving to a great extent. They destroy what was the life truly lived during the twelve months. Things were far more tumultuous, upset, and upside down than flat charts of data and trends can possibly depict.

Look at the graphic I’ve provided. I found it on NPR after a quick search for a depiction of the year’s key statistics (deaths and cases). The graph is from Johns Hopkins University, one of the most recognized aggregators of coronavirus data. You can find a million such images. This is the one I’ve picked to make my point.

OK, back to the graphic. You see coronavirus broken out into three overall parts, at least as I see it. There are two waves and an interim in between.

Wave One is April and May. The interim, with cases and deaths falling and then holding more or less flat, spans June through October. Wave Two, rising far above both the interim and Wave One, lasts from November to February.

Many readers who’ve followed my work on coronavirus will know that I’ve emphasized the compelling similarity between 2020-2021’s cororovirus and 1918-1919’s influenza. The Wave One-Interim-Wave Two model fits closely together despite more than a century of separation. Amazing.

Enough of this. As to my Point Two…

The graph shows the numbers but not the life. The waves show the numbers but not the life. The data is the numbers but not the life. Only you and millions of other Americans like you can talk about the reality of living through the time period illustrated on the flat, two-dimensional graph.

Memory has a habit of erasing details. You recall something in your life and the further away you get from it in time the more details that fade away and disappear. You’re left with a history shaped in glob form, a few things remembered with varying degrees of accuracy. The general tone or theme can still be correct—maybe—but certainly the rawness of your experience is gone. The potential for learning from the experience disappears.

Our recollection of the year of coronavirus will suffer the same fate. Slowly, inexorably, the details will be ground down, blown away, dried up. Important knowledge will remain, yes. Important knowledge will also be lost and misplaced.

The problem and danger is in the nature of the gone. Emotions will be forgotten. Obstacles will be modified. The grays and blurs of problems will be invisible. Choices and options will be ignored. Examples of resilience and inspiration will be glossed over.

Do something.

I beg, beg, beg you to take even a little bit of time and write down as much as you can remember of your experience and those of your loved ones. I don’t expect your writing will change the world or save humanity—mine certainly won’t either, if that’s any consolation. I do know with total confidence that people in your family who are living and are yet to live will be the beneficiaries of your efforts. You’ll save knowledge that will otherwise vanish. You’ll affect their lives in ways no one can imagine. If no one else thanks you, let me do it.


I’ll guess that you likely agree with me on the intrinsic value of my suggestion. It feels right to say that at least part of your family will be grateful you’ve written things down.

I wonder something.

If that’s true for you and your family, what happens when the scale of people grows? What happens if we begin to think beyond you and your family to a larger group of people—would they be more likely, less likely, or the same as your family in understanding the worth of writing down the memories of the collective members while the memories are still fresh? And keep going: what if you’re talking about the memories of a community, a state or region, a nation? Does the existence of value and the recognition of value track with the growth of scale?

And do the elements that comprise value, its parts and pieces, do they change as well?

Enough again. Take my Point Two and embrace it for where you and who you know best. Don’t let the demographers, datagraphers, statisticians, and public health number-crunchers have the last say on depicting the past. You have your say. You have your word. You have your memory memorialized. If not, sadly, I can predict what will happen.

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow for Point Three. All the best, Dan