This has been the background of my day. It’s trippy and it’s relentless and it’s relevant as fuck right now.
It’s the kind of philosophical mind-warp that 18-year-old me would have wanted to debate on the hill after the astronomy lab I so desperately wanted to understand, closing a day that had started with a Philosophy 101 course, both of which I was taking at a Methodist private college.
Imagine having – time. All the time in the world, for some of us. Close your eyes. Imagine it. Are you there? Are you in the middle of what you imagine such a world to be? Stay in that space. I’m just going to slowly introduce some facts. One at a time. We have that luxury right now, after all.
The first, and it’s a big one. You’ve lost your job. Before you claw to the surface asking WHAT? WHY!? BUT I GAVE IT EVERYTHING I HAD!, shhh. It is happening everywhere. Nothing is guaranteed in your professional space, in your industry, anymore, and maybe not again. But you have time. You have time to watch that pile of screeners that you really, really had meant to watch already, the ones you enthusiastically asked for access to even knowing that you had no time to give it a background nod, much less your full attention. You have time to read the assorted mini-stacks of books accumulated at your bedside table, at your recliner table, at your coffee table. The books you dust off a few times a year, maybe read an ambitious three chapters quickly one night, voraciously, hungrily, because you know it will only last as long as that moment, and then the next, but once you put it down it will stay for weeks and months longer, waiting for you, wistful, with so much to say if only you could just give it a chance.
But wait, you say, wait. If I have this kind of time you speak of, I need to visit my family. My parents. My grandparents. My grown children, siblings flung hither and yon, family by blood and family by choice. If I have this kind of time, let it be spent with them.
Well…it’s not that kind of thing, see. You DO have time, yes. You do. But it’s safer for everyone you love if you stay apart. Of course you can still talk to them, but just…not in person. It’s better, truly. There’s something happening in the world, and we’re all going through it, see, like we mentioned before with that whole out of work thing – there’s something happening that almost nobody living can explain or compare to any life experience they’ve ever had.
But what we do know is that people are dying – remember that catchy song Stacy’s Mom? That you named your work printer after? That guy died today. The Fountains of Wayne guy. I know. No shit. That’s right – and he was just 52.
Older people are susceptible, sure, but it’s very easy to catch this thing, and it’s very easy to carry it without knowing it. To pass it along with the best of intentions – you needed some things at the store, much like you do every few days. You grabbed a cart, threw some stuff in it, checked out, left. Or you went to visit someone at the hospital. Or you worked somewhere with literally any people.
No, I’m not overreacting. See, that’s the part that’s hard to swallow. We have to stay inside right now. Or close to inside. Because the thing about this pandemic is that we can prevent it. We can stop it. We can flatten it.
We just have to stay home.
For those who can’t stay home, all we can do is offer them love and support from afar. By staying in, by staying isolated, we make their jobs easier. We make their fear at working the front lines…a little less. See, none of us know what we’re up against. This makes it easy to blame people. Leaders. People who should know, who should be prepared, who should have a handbook or something, for god’s sake.
So yeah, there isn’t one. There is, and there isn’t. What we do know, though, what we know for sure, is that you gotta stay in. You gotta resist the urge to go grab a coke, to go play ball outside with your neighborhood group, to have the block party. As innocent as all those things are and have always been, we’re playing with a new rule book now.
And here’s the crazy part, the part I didn’t forget about and was circling back to – you have a lot of time. But that time may look different from the inside.
You have time to have long conversations. To learn a new craft. To read. To write. To listen. And while you’re doing that, while we’re all doing that, the world is healing around us. Nature is taking a deep sigh of relief as it bursts anew all around, free to grow without as much pollution, as much abuse. Birds are flying with a little more zip, singing a little louder – or maybe it’s because we never had time to notice.
This is time that nobody asked for, but it’s also maybe time that we needed. We miss our families. We miss our friends. But this will give us all new tools to forge ahead. New skill sets. New shared memories. Days and weeks and – yes, months – that we can choose to either stay still or stay active. Time to do with as we please, to mold as we choose, as we look to a future that no one can see but we are already creating.
Friends, thank you for being here. There is absolutely no one I’d rather step into the great unknown with…than all of you.
Stay home. Wash those hands. I’ll talk to ya tomorrow.