Well, what does one say after the year that was last week?
In the midst of our schools closing, a multiple-day migraine, a child in Europe whose east-coast university has shut down and wants her to move her belongings out, and a clogged kitchen sink line, I re-arranged my living room. I spent an entire evening reconsidering the objects on my fireplace mantel. I bought paint to re-paint the bedroom I painted in December. I put a lot of stitches into a canvas while I watched stupid things on TV that made me feel nostalgic for 2010.
Before I left work on Friday, hoping that we really will return in two weeks but knowing that we likely won’t, I checked out a bagful of books from our school library. Good thing, because Saturday morning I woke to the news that our public libraries are shutting down, which somehow hit me harder than anything else had. Perhaps because libraries are my church, and if ever there was a time a person might need church, it’s now. In the absence of such, I am planning a garage re-organization project, which I’ll start just as soon as it stops snowing.
Because it is freaking snowing, in Portland, Oregon, in the middle of March.
Which leads me to ask:
My daughter is staying put in Europe for I don’t know how long, and we reminded ourselves this morning that humor is a key item in anyone’s apocalypse survival kit. As are toilet paper, pasta, and ways to keep productively busy.
Ever since reading Digital Minimalism a few weeks back, I’ve curtailed my social media consumption (going so far as to remove the apps from my phone), but as the wheels started flying off the bus on Friday I found my feeds to be a place of comfort. It was good to hear from people I know and love. It was good to see sound information being shared. It was good to laugh. It was good to be reminded of what can be best in us, rather than what’s so often worst.
Mostly, it was heartening to realize that my feed was full of messages that all said some version of this: We need to do what we’re doing and bear the costs of these actions not to reduce our own risks, but to reduce the risks to others. The ratio of those messages to photos of empty toilet paper aisle shelves was about a million to one, and for the first time in a long time I’ve felt something I’d almost forgotten the feeling of: Hope.
As I’m watching the world around me shift to accommodate the shape of something we’ve never experienced here, there is something that feels almost holy in this moment. I have been thinking for a long time that it would probably take some kind of disaster to turn us around on the path we’ve been hurtling down. That is the opportunity inherent in this unfolding disaster that will touch all of us in some way, if it hasn’t already.
My deep, fervent hope today is that this will propel us to remember how inter-connected we all are, to reach out to each other rather than erect walls between us, to uphold ideas and ideals that have always been the best part of us, and to act more from love than from fear.
We’ll all have to figure out the best ways for us to do that. Right now, I’m focused on staying home as much as possible and supporting those in my personal circle without creating more risk for those outside it. I might write here more often, once I get a little equilibrium back. Mostly, though, you can probably find me (but please, don’t come too close looking) painting a wall or cleaning a garage or stabbing canvas with a needle or sharing something through Facebook–a tidbit of useful information or something funny to make you smile.
Because it has always been true that we also serve, who only stand and wait.