The phrase “a shot in the arm” probably originated in the 1950’s. Cambridge dictionary defines it to mean “something that has a sudden, strong, positive effect on something else providing encouragement and new activity.” It probably was more associated with the injections of morphine and other opioids, (dating back to the 1800’s) than it was with vaccines. Still, it points to a boost for us and to better times.
Today I had my first vaccine shot for Covid19. All the medical care providers and patients at the Howard Brown facility were upbeat and almost joyous in the process of delivering and receiving the vaccine. The pharmacist there told me that after she received both of her vaccines, she felt inches taller and pounds lighter, and that the fluish side effects she had, were SOOOO worth it! Of course, she still wore her mask and was sticking by the same protocols always, but she said, “Something shifted for me. Maybe it was hope.”
I must admit I was a little nervous going there. Something was stirring within me in anticipation. Not because of shots. I don’t mind those. And the possible side effects were not something I was looking forward to, but really weren’t that worrisome. It’s that I felt an unleashing of all the emotional and psychological effects of this last year. I witness it each day with my clients; there are a variety of impacts from this pandemic. A year kind of stolen away from college students, never to be returned back to them. Backsliding on physical progressive illnesses because so many resources have been unavailable to them. Single parents and working parents feeling complete burn out and overwhelm. Loneliness. And zoom fatigue for most of us.
And now, the light felt pointed on me, and was not shining on my clients. The light illuminated my own internal challenges, my fears and sense of helplessness, even as my year has been productive, abundant and creative in many ways, and filled with gratitude. I felt the immense weight of this year. I felt the complexity of my feelings and all the polarities stewing inside of me. I wondered what lies ahead.
After the shot they ask you to sit there and wait, and especially watch your breathing, making sure there is no allergic reaction. My breathing was shallow, followed by big breaths, then shallow, then fast, then big breaths again. It wasn’t an anaphylactic reaction at all. It was the erratic reactions to this last year and life itself.
I walked to the car and the blue sky greeted me with happy sunshine. And then the light began to cast itself away from me and onto humanity as a whole. I knew, in that moment, that getting vaccinated was not just about me. It was for our whole civilization. It was about all those human souls I am interconnected with, and for their highest good as well as mine. I felt that liquid going through my arm, through my body and all the way to Africa and China. I imagined that “shot in the arm” creating a rippling “sudden, strong, positive effect” throughout the planet. At that point my breath became everyone’s breath: calm, regular and reassuring.
When I got home, my wonderful son (recovering from last Saturday’s surgery) implored me to watch an extraordinary documentary on YouTube. He is a resource magnet. He said that this may be one of the best films ever. We watched it and I was deeply moved. People from all over the world submitted footage shot on one day, July 25, 2020. There were over 3500 submissions which were edited together. If there ever was a film that drove home our interconnectedness, it is this one. It is called Life in a Day 2020 director’s cut. I have embedded it here for your viewing or you can just search for it on YouTube on whatever device.
It’s a real shot in the arm for Humankind.