No joke, man. COVID-19 is a motherfucker! We are still hitting daily records on the national level for new cases and there are cities in several states where the hospitals are reaching 100% capacity. New York City, of course, had the benefit of being the primary target and hence got all the attention and resources. Other cities scoffed and played the “it can’t happen here” game and they’re dealing with situations worse than we could have imagined. Don’t ever be unprepared for a pandemic sucker-punch. That’s the lesson. We are only lucky that this isn’t an illness with a higher mortality rate because as obnoxious as it is to say that it could have been worse, when you’ve got 150,000 bodies down (there are still corpses here in NYC in refrigerator trucks to the tune of 1500, it could have been much worse. It may still be worse. I will say it again. More than a decade in Vietnam didn’t give us this many bodies (yah, I know, not on our team anyway). Not to be flip, but this deserves another dismal graphic.
There you go. A quarantine photo because we can’t assume that everyone has morphed into MARIE KONDO over the last few months. Look, I’m not being flip here. I’m just a little frustrated. I’d also like to think that a lot of the pain we are seeing around us, not just Rona-related, is the pain of birth or rebirth or something, and that we’re not just biding our time before we can be re-integrated into The Simulation that we were stumbling blissfully through before. The tragedy of that is only a very close second to the tragedy of 150,000 dead, and counting.
Me? I’m staying sane, mostly. I’m working, thankfully. I’m taking time for deep reflection. I’m attending to health issues, and successfully doing so. I’m mostly social distancing but still managing to swim, run, hike, go fishing and take in as much of the natural world that exists around me as I can. I’m thinking long and hard on what comes next, for me. I can’t do it for anyone else. I’m addressing resentments old and new. I’m making amends where possible, to others and to myself.
The most important thing I’ve done, I believe, is to admit that I am afraid, because without admitting it and allowing it to manifest in the present forefront, it can’t be addressed.
I am afraid for myself and what everything means for me. I am afraid for you.
I am facing it.
There is so much to consider. Only a few months ago in a pique of localized patriotism when so many of my neighbors were wading into the pandemic with so much bravery and positivity, I voiced that there was no place in the world I’d rather live and die. It was a case of being caught up in the moment, and the feelings remain to an extent, but my feet are still itchy. Old thoughts are wandering in again about how maybe it’s time to move on. It’s not about running away from anything here or questions that my life might be better somewhere else. It is 100% about the power of mystery and uncertainty and the unknown. It’s a low-grade fever for adventure that’s always afflicted me and hasn’t ever diminished or disappeared even for a moment. There isn’t even a specific destination in mind and that’s largely about freedom. Once you find a powerful sense of yourself you can go anywhere with absolutely no fear of losing yourself. I can’t begin to describe that feeling of liberation.
I sat on the beach for a while yesterday with a friend and we discussed the idea of growing old alone. These aren’t even doubts we would have spoken of ten years ago. For one, it would have been unthinkable. We would have taken it for granted that it was something that couldn’t happen. Now it’s more of a possibility. Is it scary? In a way, yes it is. It’s not something to aspire to, certainly. It is terrifying? I can’t speak for anyone else but there is nothing there approaching terror for me. It’s always a good idea to meditate on our relationships with other people and on love and what it means or doesn’t mean. Just as there is a difference between pleasure and the removal of pain and discomfort, there is a difference between love and the removal of loneliness, for example. I have confused those before, though not in so long. I’ve had people come at me passionately professing love and then watched them run into brick walls, both brick walls that I built and often brick walls that they built. Being in love sounds great and feels great until you realize that it is work and weigh as much as a ton of bricks. It’s not always weightless joy. That’s the beauty of it, really, but the realization of these facts can be a stunner.
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my values and on the change I’d like to see in the world, AND how I’ve probably lapsed in actions that make those values more than words. What is my role in effecting change alongside others who share these values (and don’t just speak the words)? Can I in good conscience be as inactive as I’ve been and continue to look in the mirror?
No, I can’t.
So what is my role? Where can I be most useful and to whom? You can’t do everything at once. You can’t be everywhere at once. You can do at least a couple things at once though. Just choose a couple that are time/energy compatible.
I don’t know, man. This continues to be a time of reflection and growth for me, despite the chaos around me. The inside of my head is less chaotic than it’s ever been. What it comes down to now is how I might be able to share that in any aspect of my life, and where to do that sharing.
To be continued, I suppose. COVID=19 doesn’t seem to be going anywhere so for now, neither am I.