Times have been such times lately. They continue to be such and I’ve found it pretty stressful even in the midst of my life mostly looking the same. But I encourage you to reflect very deliberately on what’s going on for you.
And perhaps you can take some time to catalog the things that you have been doing lately that you haven’t typically done much, but which have brought you joy. Art projects, baking, teaching your children. Mediation, journaling, calling friends and relatives regularly. Going on walks, watching comedy specials, supporting local restaurants. Gardening, reading, exercising. Whatever else it might be.
In the intermediate future, some of those things might be difficult to keep up, as life returns to a non-pandemic rhythm. But I encourage you to cast your mind forward to that time and think of how you can commit to keeping those joyful activities thriving.
On a more macro level, I also encourage you to think about the things that, as a society, we should not want to return to ‘normal.’ Doing the bare minimum with healthcare, housing, and the minimum wage. Unnecessary commutes, unnecessary prison sentences, unnecessary restrictions. Teacher pay, care for the elderly, racism. Lying and/or incompetent politicians, ridicule of expertise, disbelief of science. Pollution, individualism of the most selfish sort, failure to understand the interconnectedness of our communities and our world. Lots of things I hope that we change forever.
Now is the time. Think carefully about the life and world you want on the other side of this thing. Get it down while it’s fresh in your mind and find a way to hold onto the things you’re thinking and feeling. We can change things but it’s not going to happen on its own. We’ve got to do things with purpose. Take now to think about what that purpose is, or maybe what you hoped it had been and now realize it wasn’t.
I’ll be real with you, I don’t think much of anything will change. I’ve seen headlines and think-pieces on how the very nature of work will be altered moving forward. I don’t buy it. I hope. But while all our systems have been challenged, none of them have been overthrown. Those in power have rushed to their aid even as they have, to a greater or lesser extent, aided the common people.
But those powers that be will do everything they can to return to the status quo that they created and that benefits them. It sounds a little conspiracy-y to say it like that but it is what it is. Talking about changing offices forever? Doubt it. The people who built the massive office buildings won’t take kindly to employees who want to abandon them–even just for a couple days a week.
And for those who don’t work in offices? For the ‘essential’ workers who are outside of prestige jobs in medicine, for example? Lots of verbal support but it’s unlikely that the Republicans who supported our lovely stimulus checks would also support a minimum wage increase.
Hopefully, time and the world will prove me wrong.
I am not a policy wonk and I hesitate to make such pronouncements with any authority. And by ‘hesitate’, I mean ‘refrain entirely’ since none of my pronouncements actually carry any authority. But here we are.
I’ve just been sitting here. Working some. Enjoying the sun. Listening to a D&D podcast. Petting cats. Trying, as ever, to make and maintain friendships.
But I do hope that you take the time to make that catalog. Be deliberate about the changes you make. We aren’t all the ‘powers that be’ who can make the kind of decisions that transform societies. But in some ways, at least, we can transform our own lives. Let’s try to take this opportunity while we can. Be kinder to yourself and be kinder to those who have only had things worse since this whole thing started.
To finish us off this week, cats and poetry. The poem some distant relative of a translation from Hafez (but probs nowhere near something he actually wrote) and the setting of it by Dan Forrest has been haunting me for weeks. Enjoy.
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.