The whirlwind of 2020 and 2021 is one of great contradictions. There was much to be written, yet when the pen came out, there seemed to be nothing worth writing about at all. There was much to be appreciated, yet when I tried to give thanks, there was little that felt like a blessing. And when our circumstances were forcing us to make critical, much-needed change, it became increasingly apparent that nothing might change at all.
On March 13, 2020, stay-at-home orders were first initiated here in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Suddenly freed from the burden of much hurried activity, I expected I’d have more time to explore creative endeavors such as writing and visual art. Instead, worry and sadness squashed every attempt. What was more important than remaining safe, remaining alive?
As the days wore on, I heard about other households, their members reacquainting with one another and their surroundings. Dads were playing catch with kids in the backyard instead of moms shuttling them off to practice with coaches. Homeowners were planting flowers instead of hiring landscapers to just get it done. Couples were teaming up in the kitchen to turn whole food into delicious and nutritious meals instead of “grabbing a bite” on the drive home.
We were shaken, forced, thrust, immersed into a world of simplicity, stillness, and groundedness, like a snow day that would last for weeks…and weeks…and weeks, until we were so sick of it, so sick of the sickness and death and restrictions, so sick of occupying the kids, fretting over the budget, missing the gatherings and friends, that we reverted back to the want of nothing other than the way it was before.
In doing so, we have clouded our judgement. Wanting what was, we forgot to consider what could be. At one of the rare gatherings of friends (outside and distanced), I asked if anyone could think of something good–pain and suffering aside–that came from the Covid-19 experience. I expected to hear about working from home, less expenditures on gas, cleaner air, respect for life, the excuse to play outside, or an appreciation for the simple things. Instead all I got was, “Are you kidding? Covid sucks.”
Are we so entitled that we refuse to change, even in face of THIS? Will we ever be willing to curb our activity, to dim the lights, to refocus on what’s near instead of perpetually journeying to what’s far? I’m not just asking on behalf of the sanity of the human race, I’m asking on behalf of Mother Earth, the patron and benefactor of our consumptive ways. How far must we go before we become willing to remember that excitement and pleasure don’t first require grand possessions or made-up splendor?
I’ve written very, very little during the whirlwind of 2020 and 2021, as is evident by the lack of posts on this blog. Today is different. Why? Because while the American conversation is obsessed about Covid–its origins, its restrictions, its variants, its vaccinations, the break-through infections, case counts, and death rates–our planet is changing so dramatically, so quickly, so unhealthily, if we don’t change now, if we don’t pull back from constantly traveling, buying, building, pumping, fighting, warring, exploding, and wanting, we are doomed. Today is different, because I read some alarming news. It is a discovery from science (that favorite word our Covid spokespeople keep claiming to follow). It says that the gulf stream is weakening, exhibiting signs that it is teetering towards collapse.
You probably didn’t hear about it over the noise, over the narrative that says “blame the unvaccinated,” for it’s all their fault that we can’t just get back to that so-called blossoming life we call “normal.”