What IS This?

“Success” in the time of COVID-19

65# Toy Car Wedged Between Two SUV’s in a Garage.

Look closely, you may have to enlarge the image.

It’s a blue, battery-powered kids car stuck between two real cars. Sideways. In a garage. (with a 5 yr-old boy in a spikey bike helmet in the background).

The Story: Pre-‘Lockdown,’ some families gathered in a neighborhood park.

At a point, my grandson, Luke (5), great-nephew Sam (6), and friend Tommy (6) decided the party would be WAY more awesome if they had Sam’s car. After some begging, their Dads gave in (don’t judge) and let them go get it.

A few minutes later, The Dads went to investigate and found the situation captured in this photo. When I saw it, knowing the key players, I couldn’t stop laughing.

An easy caption for this photo is: 65# Toy Car Wedged Between Two SUV’s in a Garage. But that only says what it IS, not what it means.

What I see is a picture of hopefulness, of optimistic endeavor. I see a visual depiction of brainstorming, which, demands no judgment of good or bad, no obligation to what’s gone before, just enthusiastic, courageous pursuit of a goal.

Were they successful?

Though not exactly the way they envisioned and not soon enough to make it to the park party, the toy car DID get removed from the garage. And there’s no doubt that future decision-making strategies (of boys AND Dads) will be informed by the ‘outcomes’ of this experiment. They gathered enough information from their ‘garage-extraction’ inquiry, though, to move them
forward in their next problem-solving challenge. So yeah, it’s ‘success.’

In an unexpected way, this story resonates today. We need minds with varied expertise and experience working together, thinking fearlessly and creatively about every possibility for taming Covid-19. The image? It helps us keep in mind that success in the long run, may at the outset, look like failure.

But failures are what fuel advances.

EPILOGUE: Via txt, my son-in-law added this: “After too many minutes of not coming back we [The Dads] began to walk toward the house. 3 boys run out: 1 says “Sorry Dad,” one says nothing, and the last says ‘I didn’t do anything.’* Guess which one was Luke.”

*Full disclosure: The spikey-helmeted 5 yr-old is Luke. In the heat of a moment, there IS precedent for his playing a little fast and loose with statement accuracy; i.e. “I didn’t do anything” HAS been translated, previously, as “I definitely did something.”

Author: Jan Long

Published: March 31, 2020