I can’t believe I’m writing this, but the worldwide virus pandemic has really come home to Charleston. Stay at home. All but essential businesses closed. Restaurants closed. Tourists gone. Streets once bustling now empty.
I’ve basically been home the past eight days except for walks in the park and now I hear that’s being closed. I’ll have to walk around the neighborhood and use my exercise Stepper. I may go to the early opening senior hour at Publix next Tuesday. I have plenty to eat, but I miss my fresh fruit such as blueberries and bananas. I mean, I don’t HAVE to have them. Is it worth risking my life over? (Again, I can’t believe iI just wrote that. Tell me I’m dreaming!).
Everyday life is getting more and more surreal. It’s way beyond strange. As they say, “You can’t make this stuff up.” I always thought truth was much more interesting than fiction. Now it’s much stranger than fiction. In a week our “booming” economy (translation: booming, through-the-roof stock market and rich getting richer economy) has been changed forever. The stock market has tanked by a third in one week. The powers that be are getting very frightened. There’s massive, instant unemployment. Schools will be closed possibly for the rest of the school year, though here they’re hoping for a May 1 re-opening until the summer recess. Bizarre. Unreal, but real it is. Can you imagine modern parents having kids home six months out of the year, maybe longer? Maybe not. No one knows anything anymore.
What will save us from this pandemic? Whoever would have thought?? We’re in uncharted territory. Terra incognito. Is it the calm before the storm? Everything’s so eerily quiet when you go outside and walk around. Even when I go out on the porch at 2am, which I frequently do, Maybe I should say “calm.”
A week ago I wrote this to a friend: “I’m feeling a kind of disassociation from the everyday world that is now becoming bits and pieces of memory of how things were. On the surface things may appear normal, but they really, really aren’t. I’ve been having my usual strange and inexplicable dreams. [Maybe now I really should write them down. Maybe some answers are contained within them]. It’s more lonely and quiet in this house than I thought it would be.”
Last night thanks to technology I Face-Timed with my sister, brother, brother-in-law and nephew. It fet good to be connected and see each other when we can’t visit in person. But this also is strange and unusual. Why haven’t we done this before. Is this what it takes?
My brother sent me this quote from a novel and it reaffirmed what I’ve been thinking — they we’re all gong to be changed in some fundamental ways by this experience. We’re going to learn a lot of lessons. A new world will dawn (hopefully) and a realization that we’re all in this together. We all share this one fragile planet. We need to make significant advances in Inteligence and civilizing behavior. This pandemic may end up forcing the process whereby we finally become more compassionate, enlightened beings — if we survive, that is.
From a novel about the 1830-1 Polish rebellion against Russia by the French-Irish writer Kathleen O’Meara:
“And people stayed home…
And people stayed home
and read books and listened
and rested and exercised
and made art and played
and learned new ways of being
and listened deeper
someone met their shadow
and people began to think differently
and people healed
and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways,
dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
even the earth began to heal
and when the danger ended
and people found each other
grieved for the dead people
and they made new choices
and dreamed of new visions
and created new ways of life
and healed the earth completely
just as they were healed themselves.”
David Kessler says what we are starting to suddenly experience is grief for a way of life that is now lost, temporarily, permanently? For how long?