I woke up this morning with the song “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas playing through my mind. An earworm, I believe this phenomenon is called.
I don’t know about you, but as this pandemic progresses my dreams run through my nights like a magical film library produced just for me–vivid, strange, compelling, and with discernable, if odd, storylines. I won’t bore you with any descriptions, as we all know listening to other people’s dreams is about as interesting as watching nailpolish dry, but the line of the song that keeps reverberating over and over as if it were part of the song track to my latest dream-movie is “nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.”
(It is now almost 11 a.m. I woke at 6:30. So that’s a few hours of earworming. I wonder what the record time is?)
Okay, I’ll just tell you this one part of my dream…in it, my house burned down. It fits. See? Nothing lasts. Nothing lasts. Nothing lasts.
Aren’t we all feeling this a little bit right now? We know, if we’ve paid any attention at all in school, that we humans are but a blip in the timeline of earth and sky. Trees live much longer than we do. But of course we don’t want our timeline to be cut even shorter, so this pandemic feels a bit as if we’ve been cheated out of what little time we have to…do what?
I think this is the question that haunts me the most these days. What, exactly, is so important about what we do with our time? Again, I think of classrooms and history lessons, those wars and kings and queens and uprisings and rebellions and all the stupid politics and campaigns and colonizings and raising up of banners. A flag on the friggin’ moon.
These “doings” got us where we are, I suppose, along with scientific discovery and philosophical ideas and religious epiphanies and art, and it is fascinating, this human history. We are, indeed, part of it, the leading edge of it, creeping into the future.
I’m thinking now of Stephen King’s Langoliers and how the past was drab and lifeless while the future sparkled with energy and life. I’ve always been interested in edges. We are living at it all the time. Mindfulness practice allows us to fully experience this edge. So does writing a poem. So does writing a blog post like this one, a stream-of-consciousness kind of thing.
If nothing lasts, how important is anything?
Again I come back to the thesis running through my thoughts and this blog lately, the existentialist leaning in: we find our own meaning. Nothing, in and of itself, is really that important. We decide what to make important so that we have a structure. So this pandemic is disrupting our structures, for some people more than others, but for all of us in some way. I find my usual comforts and activities feels less compelling than usual–my reading, books, coffee, writing, cooking–even as I have more time to do them. Wine, on the other hand…
Some of my friends are experiencing the opposite. They are doing a “better” job leaning in to their enjoyments and pleasures. I admire and envy this equilibrium.
And what of writing? I was talking to a friend yesterday about novels and stories and how and when the pandemic will be written about in our popular fiction. I saw a pandemic-set story on Wattpad already being serialized, so it is, in fact, already happening. I said I didn’t think I could write a story set in the pandemic moment any more than I could have written a WWII novel during the war. I’d need a little more distance to get a perspective.
The comedians and journalists are doing a pretty good job of writing about the pandemic as it happens. For me, it will take some reflection. However, this may be a good time to keep a journal and to reflect on the small moments. We will each remember this time differently. Won’t it be interesting, when this thing has come and gone, to read about others’ experiences and takeaways?
Wherever you are out there in the world, I wish you comfort and peace.
Are you keeping a journal? Or are you using your social media account as a kind of running reflection of this time? Are you finding it harder or easier to enjoy your favorite activities? Feel free to drop in a comment. I always love to hear from you!