Thursday, September 3, 2020

fast fwd.

Dear Concerned,

I don't actually think they were simpler times; I think we just forgot all the myriad complications.  Once in a while, I get a glimpse of it, out of the corner of my eye; a kind of 'true memory' and it is pretty awful: there is doubt in abundance, and confusion; worry & sorrow are there too.

I am suggesting a kind of fast forward, no, not to the end of the pandemic, I mean something more utilitarian than that even:  I mean, what does it feel like to tell about now in a year or a week?  Let me try:

Everyday, with regularity, I searched for good news.  All I ever found were more reasons to worry.  From the people I knew, I received comfort of all kinds- I tried to send it in return.  I wrote, I called, I sent messages and packages.  I made things to give.  Making masks depressed me, not because I didn't want to wear one, but because it felt like such a tiny little blow against the enormity of the danger.  I did not like the virtual ways we used to connect.  Looking at myself felt silly and it sapped all my confidence and energy.  It turned me into a self-conscious 12 year old, which is something I did not want to be again.  The phrases and language that blossomed annoyed me- 'at the end of the day,' 'pivoting to the new reality,' 'the new normal.'  Why wouldn't people use a language of honesty, of candor?  Why did they hide behind these rubbishy jingles?  I studied daily the numbers and data- it was like a kind of ritual, a kind of penance and a way to bear witness.  People actually took to the streets, but things seemed mired in absolute endless repetition.  Everything fell apart, but it was all just barely taped together anyway.  What was hardest, was trying not to inflict suffering on others.  This is always so, but it seemed even harder than usual: why the hell were we even trying to work 'online?'  None of this make-work mattered much.  The real scare lay in what we were going to do with ourselves if nothing was required of us- it was alternately scintillating and frightening.  There was no reason to do much of anything.  I discovered that I communicate with words, but that isn't even half of the information in a conversation.  The flattening of interactions revealed how our culture and society obscures the elemental levels on which we actually function:  smell, small tells of movement, infinite and invisible physical cues.

And that, is some of what I will have learned, later, in the future.  Back in the olden times.