COVID-19: The Spirit of Houston: Hold it down and extend a hand

Houston Astros logo (Photo by: Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Houston Astros logo (Photo by: Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Houston, this is for you.  This is for the medical professionals from doctors to nurses and hospital staff risking personal safety to fight COVID-19.

Houston, this is for military personnel, first responders, firemen, and police going above and beyond even their usual superhuman remits.  This is for our high school seniors and little leaguers who’ve had journeys cut unexpectedly short to the unseen enemy of COVID-19.  This is for the citizens who’ve seen their livelihoods impacted in a way they never imagined.

But, most of all, this is for a city forever tied to the words clutch, crush, and hustle.  This is for the city that, even in the face of astonishing adversity, recently showed a global audience how to pick itself up, dust off, and move forward as one.  Houston has the playbook the world needs now and in the foreseeable future.

The greater Houston area is enduring its second “once in a lifetime” event in three years while the world collectively scrambles to control the pandemic COVID-19.  Houstonians certainly are in a very select group of people who can claim such a thing with a straight face after persevering through Hurricane Harvey and its considerable destructive wake despite this unprecedented moment we find ourselves in now.

As many of you probably reading this, I was among those pitching in to help churches and overwhelmed friends tear out drywall and insulation while also trying to come to terms with Harvey’s impact on my own home and life at the time.  Entire neighborhoods became uninhabitable and several thousand were unable to return to normal job sites for months.  In the moment, all that mattered was finding a way to help each other out.  All we could do was pick up the scraps and try to start anew.

For what ultimately became a beautiful moment in time for humanity in the city of Houston and southeast Texas in general, we became the most selfless versions of ourselves possible.  We learned when people extend hands to one another, great and powerful things happen.  We weren’t black, brown, or white.  We weren’t democrats, independents, or republicans.  We weren’t Inner Loop, Sugar Land, Katy, Kingwood or Spring.  We were fellow human beings, and we acted like it.

Adversity is a word familiar to anyone who’s dedicated a significant amount of time to athletic pursuits, and its impacts and lessons learned are felt in many walks of life.  Coaches attempt to illustrate what this word means in several ways through various drills and analogies.  One analogy I remember that stuck with me is to “stay off the clouds and out of the valleys.”  It is easy to swing to either extreme when things are going well or badly, and the trick is learning how to stay somewhere in the middle and find little ways of improving each day.

With time and experience, you learn how to control what you can control and expect the unexpected.  Training is dedicated to one thing: response.  Off script, things are going to happen.  Expect and plan for it.  However, in the moment, how will you respond?  This is the ultimate

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determining factor.

Individually, this involves a measure of digging deep to discover the primal switch that determines the core human will to overcome is greater than it is to succumb.  Collectively, it is looking to the person on your left and right and understanding there is the only way to go from a valley to a summit.  Lend a hand and bring someone up with you.

We didn’t expect to find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic where every aspect of society has been affected.

We can’t predict the future or know exactly how COVID-19 ultimately unfolds or impacts our lives moving forward.  However, we can control our response right now.  We can approach each with little goals to accomplish.  We can extend a hand and be fellow human beings.

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Divided we fall, but together we are unstoppable.

Hold it down, once again, Houston.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s Web site or the Web site for your state’s Department of Health.