Yesterday, my friend Kate O’Toole texted from Dublin, where she’d just spent a minute at her open window clapping for the health care workers. They clap all over Ireland at 8 p.m., because that’s when the nurses change shifts. On streets where a lot of nurses live, the clapping goes on for many minutes more.
I felt envious of the Irish, having this community ritual of gratitude. Why doesn’t that happen here, I thought grumpily? Then I realized that the answer is simple: because nobody has started it. So I’m starting it. Yesterday I sent an email to my Taoseño friends. Last night, at 8 p.m, I stood outside my front door with my son, clapping. My friend next door stepped outside and clapped with us.
It felt like prayer. I was in tears, just like Kate in Ireland.
They’re clapping in the U.K., too, and in Spain and Italy and India. Last week they clapped in New York. In West Palm Beach, a woman started clapping every night at 8 p.m, when her neighbor, a nurse, got home from work. Her expression of appreciation is now spreading there. People hear each other, in distant streets, clapping.
We can’t join together in person, but the sound each one of us makes with our (well-washed) hands will join together with others. Sound makes vibrations in the air. Our health care workers will feel it, wherever they work and wherever they live, even if they cannot actually hear it. They will know that we are applauding their dedication and their courage.
The sound of applause can resonate all across our beautiful valley. Maybe all across our beautiful state. Maybe a wave of clapping at 8 pm, in every time zone, could circle the earth. A gratitude pandemic. Or just a virtual hug.
Will you join us? Email photos to email@example.com. Post on social media. The New York City hashtag is #clapbecausewecare. We could add #taosthanksyou.
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