Joining the pandemic
It’s taken me quite some time to digest what has been happening to the world so far in 2020 and to my own life in particular. Like so many others, I’ve been in full WFH mode for a few months now and consider myself very much one of the lucky ones as I’ve kept my job and have been able to stay safe. In fact, other than lots of walks in nature, I’ve been inside other settings only three times since March 13 (two convenience store visits and one hardware store visit). When I feel that my responses are a little squirrely, it’s good to remind myself of that. I’m not quite at the stage where I walk out the front door forgetting to wear pants but I do feel as though I’ve slowly begun to lose the distinction between private and public life. It all seems private at the moment. I’ll have more to say about that another time.
Apart from the personal, I’ve had lots of time to ruminate on what the changes to everyday life (mine and many others) have taught me. Many wheels are turning. I’ll try to describe them in a series of short posts.
Early on, I caught on to one sanity-saving tactic. When your world suddenly shrinks from being the size of a planet to being the size of the interior walls of your house and (because I’m one of the lucky ones) the view from a backyard hammock, the scale of one’s attention changes. The tiny details that melded into a faint background hum underlying the main events of my life have now become the main events. I’m noticing which birds start to sing at which times of the day (robins always win the race), how different shadows look every day, and exactly which plants spring up new and uninvited in the little planters in my yard. I’m no William Blake expert, but I’ve found myself thinking about his Auguries of Innocence (“To see a world in a grain of sand and a Heaven in a wild flower….”) almost every single day. I’m not sorry about this. The massive changes in scale, both in space and time, have been a marvellous therapeutic and a reminder of something I used to think much more about – the utter contingency of the envelope of my life.
While I’m doing my best to stay on top of endless video meetings, the psychological impact of these jarring changes, and the frightening changes taking place in the world, I’ve also been trying to cultivate this shift to the microscopic. Every blade of grass, every beat of the metronome. It’s not all bad.