Beth Cohen
Unabashed lesbian equalist and ardent Zionist

Here and Now – Shadows of Distorted Sensations

Staying safe, photo by Beth Cohen
Staying safely tucked away in the shadows

 

To all of those people telling me to ‘be present’ ‘stay present’ ‘be in the here and now’ – I have something I think you should know.

I can only live in the present. I do not remember yesterday and I cannot imagine waking up tomorrow. I don’t even know what day it is today.

As individuals, we have distinct personalities, emotions and feelings. As individuals, we are also a kind of ‘mixed’ bag of everything that makes us human.

For example, I know that I can be really full of life, funny, productive, energetic, creative, outgoing. As an individual, not being limited in a quantitative range of qualities, I can run the whole gamut to the dark side. How does that look? Well, on bad days, I believe it smells much like a bag of sour, rotting fruit. On those days I am sad, anxious, ambivalent, dreary, closed.

Maybe it was different before. Maybe I was different before. I seriously do not remember what life was like before.

While I can only speak for myself -I have my suspicions that I have not been as alone this past month as I feel. These are my suspicions -but if social media posts are any indication of, or show any measure of one’s life; then this must be true. I myself cannot yet bring myself to investigate, as my soul is still deeply embedded in its own lockdown.

In the life before the virus, I know that I went to work. I know that I got up every morning, got dressed in real clothes, including a bra and shoes and then left the house. I may have even socialized along the way, face to face conversations -or something similar.

I can now openly admit that my idea of work was really off, and off by more than 100 meters. Work is also, occupation. Occupation as something that occupies the mind and body. It keeps us in motion -physically and mentally. It is something that gives purpose to the day, a meaning to the hour, a sense of accomplishment, of worth -a feeling of closure.

Since being on furlough, I understand that my loss of job is more than that, it is a loss of occupation – (and I fervently hope this to be temporary). The lack of occupation has left me with a truly heightened sense of living in the present. Being on furlough, especially with no actual date of return, leaves nothing but the now. All of the busyness of the day has disappeared. The reason for time, gone.

Yesterday, I assume, since I don’t really remember, was much like today. Tomorrow, all things being basically unknown, is not something I can quite imagine. I try to anticipate, to ‘get myself ready’ for that call back to work. But today -I cannot make that happen. I cannot take that leap.

When one thinks of anxiety, it is generally associated with worrying about what will be. I can honestly say, for me, now, this is not the case. The first wave of the virus is officially passed and Israel is taking its first steps in the process of exiting the lockdown. We are in the space that is ‘after’ -and that space, while a relief, is still empty. We have been walking on a balance bar, trying to keep safe for over a month now. The bar has suddenly been placed flat with the earth; not only is the bar gone -the path has disappeared.

Honestly, I appreciate that there is no path. I love the earth, the smell of the grassy places, and the feel of the hardness of the ground beneath my feet. I love wondering off the path into the wood.

But I do have a sense of worldwide indecision, confusion, alarm -and maybe shock. Does anyone really know how to describe the feeling or the mindset of a person, or groups of people, when we have not and cannot speak face to face? What can we truly discern from a conversation without seeing the full body expression, or at best facial expressions hidden by a mask, covering everything but the eyes?  Do we even know who is out there, let alone what she/he is thinking, feeling, able to do? The mask, the online ‘chats’ -we are all shadows to each other’s distorted sensations.

The air outside is crisp and fresh. The sun is shining warmly -I can almost feel it on my skin. But my dark side is out and about now. I cannot see the path. I cannot tell who it is that knocks at the door, or walks down my street. For now, I think I will just stay inside.

* All photos in this piece, unless otherwise noted, have been taken by the author

About the Author
Beth Cohen, born July 19th 1962 in Brooklyn, NY. Attended Syracuse University and made Aliyah upon graduation in Sept 1983. She became a member of Kibbutz Ketura, married and started the journey as a mother to two boys, now 28 and 31 years. Grandmother to Eitan, aged 25 months. In 1997, Beth moved her family to Binyamina, where she lived until moving to Zichron with her wife. Throughout the years, Beth has had many jobs, including speech therapist, shiatsu therapist, kibbutz gardner and irrigation manager, medical sales rep, regional sales manager and client retention. Beth and her wife co-founded a medical writing business, and she continues to work as a medical marketing writer and editor. While these occupations have been a constant, Beth's passion and constant is writing, using the written platform as her mediium to share her experiences and life views. In 2017, Beth published her first novel, a futuristic women's dystopian novel, Her Destiny Is Change. The feedback was, and continues to be fantastic. Beth promoted the book with book readings here in Israel and in Amsterdam. In the early 2000's Beth started writing and publish her blog, LesbosOnTheCouch, which became popular both here in Israel and abroad, giving her almost celebrity status among English speaking lesbians in Israel. Beth worked to get members of the political party, Kol Hanashim, elected into the 23rd Knesset. Currently, Beth, like much the rest of the population is home, praying we will all meet again on the other side of this pandemic. Until then, will continue to write and share her writing, sometimes sad, sometimes sarcastic, some funny -and always from the heart.
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