Written On 10/13/20
Today I look back on exactly seven months without going to work as a substitute teacher or anything else. Seven months without working out at the gym or eating in a restaurant. Seven months without attending the theatre or an acting class. Seven months almost entirely without saying hello to a friend face to face or shopping at a thrift store. The list is endless.
But it has also been seven months since I started meditating an hour and a half a day. Seven months since I began to develop an appreciation for the television renaissance I hadn’t known was happening and learned to binge watch. Seven months of preparing all of my own meals, and spending regular in the painting studio. Seven months of working full time on projects of my own choosing, every day.
For everything that has fallen away, something has filled its place, for better or worse. Surely, in ways I cannot see, I am a profoundly different person than the man who came home from school on the 13th of March, thinking that his life was about to be put off for two or three weeks, while the Corona virus was brought under control.
It is not just I who must have changed. Covid 19 is a world-wide phenomena, as profound as the two world wars. It will be remembered as one of the great defining events of the history of the 20th century in America. Along with, I think, the Great Depression, the Cold War, and World Wars I and II. The Civil Rights movement, profound as it has been, is not a 20th century event at all, but a predictable development of 19th century events, part of the history of the Civil War. Indeed, with very little reflection, it quickly becomes apparent that all these histories blend together and it is almost impossible to separate the strands. What a difficult task historians face, with every event so profoundly over determined by a complex past. History is a labyrinth of infinite variety, with no straight lines and no discoverable center. What centers we imagine are mere myths: God, or Economics, or the Illuminati, you place your bets if you are so inclined, but nobody knows how the gamble pays off. The center is unfathomable and will always remain so.
Not every generation encounters an historical event of the magnitude of this pandemic, or climate change, or the fall of an empire or a democracy and the rise of a plutocracy in its place. A half century from now, if historians are writing about us, they will say this was an amazing epoch. Students will dream of what it might have been like to live in such a time. The Miniver Cheevy’s of 2520 will endlessly romanticize 2020.
This week, I’ve struggled with depression; last week I didn’t. Next week I’ll write some memoir, or I won’t. I’ll paint a picture, or I won’t. The Proud Boys are demonstrating in San Francisco on Saturday. Today I ate a donut. Life goes on.
I think, mostly, life was always just what it is now. I just think about it more. The times have called my attention to just how often we swing from the muck to the stars. From the muck to the stars.
I’m feeling splashed all over with shit and stardust.
Whee, whee, whee….all the way home.