The Labyrinth: A Loop

You think you have things all figured out, and then life throws you a loop.

The two epidemiologists from the Center for Disease Control told their story on Story Corps.  They were in Sierra Leone for five and a half weeks, in a hospital where the Ebola virus was devastating not only the local population, but the staff of the hospital itself.  A baby arrived at the hospital, in a box.  The baby was tested for Ebola.  The test came back negative. The nurses all took turns holding the baby, loving the baby, cuddling the baby. In the craziness of the Ebola world, touch is rare, and human contact on which we depend becomes a premium.

The Ebola virus behaves differently in children, and often defies what we think we know about it.  In fact, this baby was infected.  Twelve nurses contracted Ebola through taking care of this baby.  Twelve nurses touched and cuddled this baby.  Eleven died.

You think you have things all figured out, and then life throws you a loop.

simple line drawing

Used by common license

This story left me in my car, in the dark, on my way to work early one morning, tears in my eyes.  The epidemiologists concluded their story:  it was so humbling.  We were only there for five and a half weeks. These people are in it for the long haul.

Life, the walking around, doing, taking care of, and processing today likely will throw each of us a loop, something that turns us back in the opposite direction of the one we thought we were walking.  Little. Medium sized.  Large.  Huge.  A plumbing leak in the ceiling seems catastrophic, and then we discover that a friend has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  Both are loops.  And the car that won’t start on the day that we are running late seems catastrophic until the ceiling leaks, or the friend is diagnosed.  Loops.

All of life’s loops have in common that they turn us utterly around and make us look back at where we were coming from.  Because we need to see where we were coming from before where we are going makes any sense.

Funny about knowing where we come from and where we are going.  Those things helps us understand better who we are.

Bob Patrick


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