This virus is something that exists right now. Has always existed really, in a bird, a feathered or scaled creature. Replicating, evolving, coming up with ever-more-creative ways to simply exist. It has seen many sunrises and sunsets, ocean basins and continents away from where I’m huddled now, sheltering in place, the no-longer-novel turn of phrase to describe the privilege many of us have with shelter.
Without the close interaction of wildlife – animals still free to be – and domesticated humans, the stark line of forest and razed earth, the brushing up of pine needles to our legs – without these things, the virus would not have taken on a bigger life, taken over all of our lives. It wouldn’t be here in my town, my neighborhood, my city block without the air and currents, the jet stream, airplanes, a globalized world, the riotous mixing and merging and showcasing of cultures. Things that I love. Things that I breathe in, dream about, look forward to experiencing. The cacophony of people and places on this earth. Because of all of that, the virus is.
What’s the saying? Every vice is a virtue. Every virtue is a vice. Too much of a good thing.
In our own grief circle today over lunch, I sat with three colleagues, friends actually. Luck of the draw in a zoom break-out room. All of us wishing we could reach through the screen and hug, rest a hand on each other’s shoulders, provide comfort with our skin.
We are a year into this life – there is a before and an after and yet we are between. We were being still and holding stillness together, remembering. Recognizing that we are unequipped to handle it, we block out the worst of it. Asking about how we best show up for the many colleagues whose parents died, alone, in hospital rooms far away. The helplessness, deserted on an island of grief, millions of us.
We marvel at how the pandemic was the through line – compounded by systemic racism and healthcare access disparities, multiplied by the dangling thread of a yet-new democracy and by climate-scourged wildfires and floods and power outrages, and exponential-ized by attempted kidnappings and Capitol sieges. Asking questions about how the perception of resilience in ourselves and our friends masks the ugly truth. What resilience will be left and what will be forever chipped away, a crumbling foundation upon which makes it damn impossible to rebuild.
Wondering what spaces we can co-create in some uncertain future that are those of healing, wholeness, collective grief, spaces where our private griefs can be tossed into a fire, like heavy rocks, hot enough to burn but never disintegrating into ash. Just charring, morphing over long time patterns from the heat, wind, and waves that outlive us. Just like this virus will.