To begin to write about this present pandemic time is a challenge in tone as much as in content. Alarmist can be cruel. Reassuring can be insensitive. No complete remove is available; we are all embedded. My intention here is simply to share some of my thinking as an individual living through these days, looking back to before as well as forward to more unknowns, out to others and into the impressions that animate my head, heart, memory, and regularly revised modes of operation.
A regular, daily or weekly or seasonal practice of sifting through and clearing out our email inboxes, our recycling bins, or our stack of well-worn t-shirts can be a satisfying clearing of the decks, a preparation or prelude to begin again the accumulation that will lead again after another interval to another clearing.
Seasons or the structures we’ve built around them to highlight and celebrate some aspect particular to each, have provided familiar rhythms through years of changes that we may have experienced as progress or loss, retooling or recommitting. The winter and summer solstices mark the two extremities of the sun’s angle across our tilted, orbiting planet. Given the large portion of my life in which I have been associated with schools in the United States—as a student or a teacher, I have racked up so many mid-June moves, the summer solstice always brings to mind moving—house, apartment, town, state, and once, continent. Midway between these solstice extremities lie the vernal and autumnal equinoxes—balanced equilibria fleeting, noted in passing if at all. This is where we are now—approaching the vernal equinox. Buds thickening, pussy willow branches piled into terracotta basins, just enough to coax us forward, harbingers of spring. Mardi gras passed, Lent, Passover, Ramadan, introspection and preparation approach us.
The months of the pandemic have turned into a year, and the election into a new administration; and nonspecific suggestions of a return to normal have been uttered…