Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

“…But they don’t fall down.”

In 1971, Hasbro/Romper Room introduced a line of roly-poly toys called Weebles. They were people and animals, egg-shaped and weighted in the center so if they were knocked off balance, gravity would right them. An ad executive named J. Mitchell Reed invented their catchphrase, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”

Our daughter and I adopted the catchphrase to see us through difficult times. When Fate would deliver a particularly powerful blow, we would remind one another that we might tip and sway dangerously, but we would never succumb. We would take a deep breath, assess the situation, right ourselves, and move on.

I never expected a line of silly toys to provide a mental image that would be a lifeline as we struggled through inequities, disappointments, and even deaths. But life demands that we grip an unfailing belief that we can prevail, if we are to survive. And so, COVID-19 arrived and the world closed. The. World. Closed. To make matters worse, many people worked to circulate information that wasn’t merely false; it was destructive. Medical personnel died horribly beside their patients. Families lost loved ones, and they couldn’t be there to say goodbye. Businesses shut their doors and many gradually fell into ruin. Promised funds often didn’t materialize for those who needed them most. The people who should’ve been working hardest to organize protective gear, weren’t. The scientists who spent late nights looking for answers, for a way out, were mocked. Cruelty, lies, and self-interests mingled with extreme selflessness, courage, and sacrifice. Times were bad.

Of course, I shouldn’t be writing in past tense. The challenges haven’t passed; they’ve morphed into more challenges—more waves of the same. The world has been wobbling. But much of what was good won’t fall down. I remember a boy in my elementary school class whose mother was in a wheelchair because she caught polio. He handled the house chores when he got home from school. One of my girlfriends suffered partial paralysis of her face when she caught it, so she had to abandon her plans to become a model. Many were disabled or died. But now when I mention polio, I’m greeted with blank stares by the young. They don’t know what they missed. One day this virus will be like that. One day. It may take longer than it did then because politics and power struggles complicate humanitarian efforts. And then there’s climate change. That’s a complication, too.

Some will fall down—the people who didn’t have a strong moral compass within, who didn’t use their intelligence to critically assess the reports from many sources, those who marched into the abyss rather than take the trouble to find a viable path forward. Some countries will become unrecognizable. Weebles wobble. But everyone who believed hard enough that we could make it together, everyone who looked for ways to be helpers, everyone who kept building fresh realities regardless of how many times the destroyers knocked them down, those people will right themselves. Those people will build a future that just might be better than what we had before the virus—because they won’t give up until it is. Gravity wants Weebles to stand up. And we will.

One comment on ““…But they don’t fall down.”

  1. Frances Sullivan
    May 17, 2020

    Perfect. If you and your daughter don’t mind, I’d like to grab hold of that image, too. I suddenly feel I can wobble to my hearts content now. 🙂 Another brilliant blog. xx

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