Oh, I think we can all agree it’s been an interesting week. I mean “interesting” like when you try a new flavor and hate it but are trying to be polite, or when you meet your friend’s new boyfriend and just…can’t.
I feel like I’ve been handed a new multifaceted prism through which to see the world. Kind of like a geodesic dome extension of my eyes and brain. At its center is me. I’m a very healthy, but also asthmatic, extrovert who paints, writes, and facilitates for a living. I am, by any global standard of living, rich. I am also far from rich. I am extremely fortunate to work remotely already for a living, and to be in the position to be able to stock up on food and cancel upcoming travel.
Through my prism, I see a world built on a perilous house of cards; a system delicately strung in and of itself where one thread pulls at many others, and those that have the least to give are pulled the hardest. Economic inequality is one dry way to put that. Another way is to say we have a system that’s all about haves and have nots, and if you have already it’s easier to get farther; and if you have not you are supposed to somehow claw your way out of that in a system that is literally rigged against you.
I think of people like me; sure with an underlying condition that makes me susceptible but also with the massive, lucky standing in life to be able to mostly (hopefully) mitigate my risk. I think of healthcare, social, grocery store, delivery, cleanup, hospitality, and really any service worker profession that have varying degrees of choice about exposure. And then I go back to thinking about my reliance on this system.
I believe this is a moment in history that is rapidly unfolding so quickly that I, and we, don’t yet have the time to think through each of these lenses of what’s happening – what’s being starkly revealed, exposed, developed. We know some of it already – inequity, for one – but it’s easy to look at that from a dispassionate, academic perspective until we are forced to or force ourselves to confront it.
So, this is what I’m asking everyone this week and in coming weeks. One: take care of yourselves. For me this means eating really well, getting outside, setting up Skype dates with friends to look at ridiculous pop culture trends (and yes, staying up on the memes – I can’t get enough of those). Two: take care of each other. If you’re well and if you’re able, deliver groceries for someone who’s cooped up. Watch the kids. Make a dinner. Call instead of text. But do text the goofy meme. Ask how people are doing. Care. Three: do something for the world. Maybe it’s small; that’s good – share something you’re reflecting on on social media. Write a letter to a decision maker about an issue you care about; write a letter to the editor. Donate to organizations and causes that matter – that GoFundMe that’s going around. The Red Cross. Your local Food Bank. I’m sure there are many other options – can you send food delivery to an E.R.? I don’t know – but if that’s a thing you want to do, explore and do it.
I’ll be hunkering down. I’m doing the social distancing thing; still making all sorts of art and sharing it here. Please, please, please – enjoy it. Our brains can’t be lit up all the time by anxiety without eventually crashing; we need awe and beauty to relax ourselves so that we can function at our fullest. And all of us functioning at our best is what the world needs right now, so don’t shy away from beauty. Seek it out, create it, share it.
Stay healthy and safe, everyone.