The indifferent sun melts into the horizon and another day has ended. What day? I cannot tell you for sure. But after something like a week into Corona Time, here’s what I can tell you — We have a really steep learning curve as we try to flatten it. For example:
Yes, life was always that fragile. Good morning, sunshine. Over-planning was always a kind of sedative hubris; A constant sense of wonder and gratitude when you have no major problems in your life is appropriate. Taking livelihood, health, the environment, or freedom for granted was always a kind of blindness.
Blindness: It is said that the Universe / God has done humanity a great kindness by not allowing us to see microscopic organisms; If we did, we could never function. And yet. Being aware of them, respectful of them, respectful of the awesome responsibility we have to gently steward and draw boundaries with nature, including the animals we can see, has always been a good idea. It’s one for the “Keep” pile after this crisis is over.
Respect: Finally, we are talking out loud about our elderly populations. Often ignored, this crisis has become largely about them, and it’s about time we paid them homage for being our parents, and for the battles they’ve fought for us (people now in their 70’s gave us Women’s Rights, Civil Rights, a work ethic, and decent music.) This generation experienced polio and smallpox, so excuse them for not freaking out. Concerned young people need to humbly learn the value of context, experience, and taking life in stride, even as they correctly try to convince their parents to listen to scientists and stay home. (And hopefully volunteer to go out and do their errands instead.)
Enough with making older people into scolded children – or alternately, God help us all, into an “expendable” burden.
The Moral Majority: Can we be cautious out of respect for life, and not as a result of anxiety or moralistic one-upmanship? Can we be unafraid, measured in our estimates, and still hold ourselves responsible for the well-being of others?
I see two lines of thought emerging: Fear-Extreme Caution-Judgment and Denial-Recklessness-Undermining Expertise. The former has taken up a moralizing tone, dismissing as petty any real concerns that are not *death from the virus* or *collapse of the health system*, ridiculing real reasons (and safe methods) for going outside, and hero-worshipping the act of sitting on a couch. The latter has taken up immoral eugenic arguments, grotesquely sanguine about “some deaths” in the face of massive unemployment, and extremely flippant about the science to which some brilliant people have devoted their entire careers.
What might we achieve while we surrender, not only our temporary freedom of movement and our sense of control, but also our feelings of righteousness, paranoia, or anger? I have news (not fake): these are more dangerous than the virus, and they always have been. Surrender fearlessly – to your very best angels.
Surrender: Hey, look, everyone. We are all online now all the time. It’s the only way out of solitude for some, and the only way to work for many. Isn’t that what we wanted, when we walked the streets face-down, ignoring neighbors, sunshine, trees, scrolling with our highly evolved thumbs? Isn’t that what we wanted, when we filmed live events through the phone instead of being there, when we filmed our food instead of looking at our dining partner? Well. We got what we wanted, in satanic quantities. Perhaps when we are again allowed to gather, we might opt to form memories and not stories. #Keeper
Other Keepers: Dear American Companies, a note. You see that people can work from home, even amid a pandemic and with toddlers underfoot. We’ve all found workarounds in a matter of days because it mattered to *everyone*. What about giving new mothers 3-4 judgment-free months to work from home, so they can stay valuable team members and also be with their babies, if they wish?
Also: A brief word on who is “essential.” Can we all now agree that stay at home moms, especially those with special needs kids, are working? Can we all now agree that the big prestige jobs are teachers (raise their salaries by 500%, Do. It.), scientific researchers (ditto), doctors, nurses and therapists, food growers / sellers, and the people who guarantee our infrastructure (electricians, plumbers, etc)? And a big shout out to hi-tech, as well. That the Internet is literally taking us through this crisis is almost a miracle.
Yes, we all miss sports and live concerts, and we all now doubly appreciate our Netflix, but for the love of our children – can we finally redefine who’s a star?
The stars have come out. The air is clean and quiet. Go look at the sky. And FFS. Don’t take a picture.