In the month of December I took an unexpected and protracted hiatus from my humble blog. You see, sometime early on in the month I suffered what I term a "buckling of the knees". I lost hope. I lost sight of the fact that Pandemic Influenza preparation, information dissemination and education, as well as event watching and analysis is a marathon and not a sprint.
I had naively thought that PanFlu preparation and awareness was a cumulative, always forward moving, positively accretive process. In the month of December we seemed to suffer one blow after another to our "message". After an unusually slow summer and fall official word was coming down about how the pandemic threat from H5N1 had abated. That was the "message" that people who are not "flu obsessed" were hearing and hanging their hats on. Suddenly a difficult task, being heard and taken with any seriousness at all, went from being difficult to impossible.
Coupled with feeling the futility of the message, I was also struggling with an understanding of knowing that even with all the ground we in Flublogia have gained it will not be enough. Not enough by a large and agonizingly deadly margin.
Suddenly, it just all seemed futile.
As a highly visual person my mind's eye tended to see an image of Salvador Dali's Metamorphosis of Narcissus when I thought about the process of pandemic information dissemination and preparation.
Nothing elegant, graceful, or beautiful, and yet the discordant symmetry, reflection, and juxtaposition are none the less evocative of "process". It is also the image that I often "see" when I follow the goings-on in Russia as she continues her metamorphosis from communism to democracy.
Tenacity, perseverance, and opportunistic luck is shown by the flowering narcissus having rooted, and even found the nurturance to bloom, in the egg shaped stone on the crumbling and decrepit "reflection in stone" of Narcissus.
Flublogia is a reflection of society at large, albeit one of discordant symmetry. We are them, they are us, and yet—we, the inhabitants of Flublogia, are also "other", in mathematical terms: a (unique) subset within the whole. We have heard a warning and taken it with seriousness, oft, deadly seriousness—as we measure the potential threat in human lives. We have heard a message that others seem to be deaf to.
But it was our "uniqueness" that I stumbled over. You see, I have come to believe that all of those capable of understanding, or hearing the message if you will, of the real potential threat of a severe influenza pandemic, and all that it could mean, already understand it. Further, that it would take an escalation of the threat to bring new people to the issue with any seriousness.
Sadly, I fear that the next escalation of events may well be the pandemic, thus affording no opportunity to take constructive and meaningful action based on this newly acquired understanding. Boiled down: I lost hope that anything I did would make a difference, or has made a difference. My words are read by those who already understand.
Egypt showed me the fallacy of my logic. Blissful ignorance and disregard of a clear and present danger, even when it jumps up and bites you in the hindquarters, can be overcome. Again, perhaps with inelegant and asymmetric grace, but with constructive and positive action never the less.
Many months ago I made a comment to a poster on one of the forums that it was not our job or responsibility to save the world, we had not been tasked with that obligation, and how terribly presumptuous to assume any one of us carried that burden. Another favorite phrase of mine: The bucket I carry is filled with my own water, and it's pretty much all I am capable of carrying… please carry your own.
After much personal reflection I have come to the conclusion that my "bucket" contains a requirement for me to keep at this—whatever this is, irrespective of its effectiveness. And, although I am suffering an acutely felt abandonment of muse, I am an optimist at heart, an optimist that hears the clarion call of responsibility. Even if my responsibility isn't to save the world, I feel it is my responsibility to continue to "speak", to continue to chip away at the crumbling stone statue reflecting Narcissus in the hopes that the flower of understanding will take root and receive enough sustenance to bloom. Presumptuous? No doubt. I am, admittedly, a rather presumptuous person.
It was the framing of this post that led me to dig up the quote from Horace that I used recently, refreshing my memory on his intent behind the words sapere aude. A more modern interpretation could be thought of as "Dare to think for yourself". But Horace's original meaning was so apropos to the situation in Egypt that I chose to use it in the previous post. In fact, this posting was originally titled Sapere Aude! with the more modern "flavor".
My "bucket" may not contain anyone else's water, but hopefully, it will help provide an informative "drink" whenever someone is ready to come to the issue of pandemic influenza should they happen to stumble upon me and my presumptuous offerings.
So, I guess I haven't lost all hope after all, but I do ask for longanimity as I struggle a bit with this bucket of mine.