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Opinion
Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: The Pollen, Like Snow

Tommy Tomlinson

The pollen falls thick all over Charlotte. It coats every exposed surface. My car once was black, and now it’s chartreuse.

I’m one of the lucky ones when it comes to pollen. I might get a slight headache or a few sniffles. But I know people who get terrible allergies once the pollen gets in their system.

And these days, the first sign of a symptom makes you think of something worse.

It’s April now, and we are heading for the days when nearly all of us will have the virus or know someone who has it. We all hope the numbers will level off soon but, based on what it’s been like in other countries, the numbers are likely to grow even faster.

Monday was a strange day in that there wasn’t a big life-changing story about the virus, no huge BREAKING NEWS alert flying across the screen. It was just a regular day in our new reality. It’s the way we’re going to live for a while.

The pollen doesn’t know about the virus. The pollen just knows it’s spring. Without the pollen, nothing grows. So as the tiny particles of the virus bring sickness, the tiny particles of pollen bring life.

Every year, when the pollen comes, I think about the James Joyce short story called “The Dead.” It’s about a lot of things, but to me it’s mostly about a young couple, and something the man learns about his wife, and how it changes how he sees her and how he sees the world.

Snow falls throughout the story, all over Ireland, and at the end of the story the young man lies in bed, watching the snow, lost in thought. The story ends with one of the most beautiful sentences I know:

His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.  

This is a time of fear and wonder. We are all equal in this air. The pollen falls upon us all.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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