Week 4—or do I mean 5?—of the Quarantine and time has lost all meaning.
I joke, kinda, sorta. Time still is, an there are still many of the usual anchors to each day and week. Walk the dogs, feed the kids, Write, rest, read, write. Taco Tuesday on Wednesdays, and, of course, Laundry Monday. Do laundry, put away laundry, wish laundry wasn’t a thing—why did humans ever leave the climates and landscapes where we could just roam naked?
The kids are fine. Maybe a bit bored, but this kind of boredom is no bad thing for kids—or teenagers.
Or, for that matter, adults, I suppose. Intermittently, I wish I were bored.
Sean is probably not fine. He’s being reminded that working alone in our basement is not particularly good for his mental health. But working upstairs amongst the noise and comings and goings of dogs, children, and meals is not good for his focus. But c’est la vie, what are the options?
Me, I’m wishing I were bored, but when I stop doing things, I find myself pondering whether I exist. At the moment, I’m fairly certain I’m a figment of a virus’s imagination.
Ok, I exist. But why? To feed the kids, walk the dogs, do laundry?
I get on Zoom and teach my final class of the semester, training a new generation of bodies for an industry about whose future I am, at best, ambivalent.
I look at the stack of proofs on my desk—the clock is ticking, I must get to these. OMG, I don’t want to, I don’t exist, and even if I do, what’s the point?
People die last week. A friend’s elderly father, also, a friend about my age, whom I haven’t seen or heard from in more than a decade. Neither from COVID-19 related respiratory complications. This plague that’s shrinking our physical world is not the only—not the most effective—tool of the Grim Reaper. True thing: 100 per cent of the all people alive today will die. The end result of all life is death, so what’s the point?
Ender: Mom? Are you making me that cheese tortilla?
I’m not really unhappy. Still unplugged from Facebook and Twitter, happily too old for Tick Tok and SnapChat. (In my email: a free on-line webinar, “Tik Tok for Authors.” No thanks. Unsubscribe, delete.) I turn down invitations to virtual house parties, Zoom chats with people I didn’t bother to meet with for drinks or coffee over the past year, and shared movie nights. I am in Cuba, in a remote cottage by a lake on the Canadian Shield, and I want to have silence, stillness, not this frenetic rush to replace the real with the virtual.
I am very still and I look at the fact and purpose of my existence, and I wonder if I exist.
Ok, I exist. And the purpose of my life is, simply, to live it, and maybe make this messy world around me a little more interesting, more beautiful… less bewildering? (I don’t say “better,” because, well, insipid, and who determines that, anyway?).
And these children.
Jane: Seriously? Another tortilla?
Ender: Or pickle sandwich?
Last weekend, I teach a workshop about journaling into fiction and I reassure frustrated writers that angst, non-productivity, frustration right now are all normal. You don’t have to write the Decameron or King Lear right now, I tell them. Just live your days. Document the moments. Play with words. Read and watch brain candy. Try to be or with being still with non-action.
You still exist.
I still exist.