Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Dispatches from the Void

Mural in Tacoma, WA. Artist/s unknown

Who wants to settle for a life that feels like less than living? The creative challenge of COVID-19, for those of us who have our health, is cultivating a life under intense restriction that still feels full, free, and our own.

"Hell is the absence of the people you long for."
 -Emily St. John Mandel

After six weeks of solo quarantine, I've started taking calculated risks in order to glean much needed communion and connection. Drive-by chats from the car to the stoop, surprise deliveries, walks with friends, and a full day spent visiting Anna this weekend in Fall City. Taking her motorized dock out for a lake ride with a bottle of rose was the most luxurious thing I've done in months. Total. Bliss.

Anna, me, and Jos last Summer. I MISS HUGS.

Our state parks are set to re-open next week, but no news on the vast terrain managed by the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife, BLM, National Parks & beyond. Because outdoor recreation has been at a full-stop in Washington, my days are entrenched in and harbored by ART. I've written before about my infatuation with stories. Stories and relationships are the light of my life, and as a single person who lives alone I'm leaning heavily on the powers of imagination and narrative. 

At a time when life feels like a run on sentence with no punctuation, I'm moved by the exclamation and emotion of other peoples' stories. With hiking out of the picture, I've returned to my first love: music. Creating playlists and diving into new artists has become a daily practice-one that is spiritual, joyful, investigative, and creative.

"Music is my total existence dawg, straight up.....I'm still with my first love, which is music." 
-J Dilla

I've also been writing. Writing is good medicine for every one of us right now. The awareness and attention we give and the records we keep will define this pandemic in retrospect; at that distant point on the horizon when this is an unbelievable past. I have hope! I'm keeping my heart open.

Where we're at right now sucks, but it's far from despair. Things could be so much worse, perfectly illustrated in the apocalyptic pandemic novel Station Eleven, which I devoured last week and highly recommend. I'm going so far as to say this is the best book I've read in years.

Built a rock garden with my landlords' sweet daughter

Aside from constantly listening to, reading, and watching all manners of artistic expression, my new hobby is taking long drives in the evening. Being OUTSIDE the house, even if it's just my car, feels indulgent. There are a couple places between Olympia and Tacoma that offer safe outdoor respite without breaking the rules and risking tickets, but of course my adventurer heart craves new experiences, alpine lakes, and long trails.

I've been fantasizing about and strategizing road trips that would involve low impact car camping and hiking in nearby states with far less closures and infection. Idaho! Montana! I truly want to be considerate. I also want to live.

A beautiful grove along the Point Defiance Loop in Tacoma
Long walks on the Chehalis-Western Trail
Catching the cherry blossoms at the state capital

"I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world is like a sleeping tiger and we tend to live our lives there on its back. (We’re much smaller than the tiger, obviously. We’re like Barbies and Kens on the back of a tiger.) And now and then that tiger wakes up. And that is terrifying. Sometimes it wakes up and someone we love dies. Or someone breaks our heart. Or there’s a pandemic. But this is far from the first time that tiger has come awake. He/she has been doing it since the beginning of time and will never stop doing it. And always there have been writers to observe it and (later) make some sort of sense of it, or at least bear witness to it. It’s good for the world for a writer to bear witness, and it’s good for the writer, too. Especially if she can bear witness with love and humor and, despite it all, some fondness for the world, just as it is manifesting, warts and all."
- George Saunders

Stories and Soundbites from Quarantine:

My soundtrack: SiR, Masego, Leon Bridges, Orion Sun, Junglepussy, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Lucky Daye, Baby Rose, Joey Pecoraro, Rex Orange County, and Smino

Podcasts I'm bingeing: The New Yorker: Fiction, The Wild, American Scandal-the current series on Waco is fascinating, True Crime Brewery

Books: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Writers and Lovers and Euphoria by Lily King, The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

Films: Uncut Gems, The Gentlemen, Shattered Glass, Blinded by the Light

Shows: Big Little Lies, blackAF, Insecure

"And that's all for now folks.."

1 comment:

  1. Music is everything...the best coping mechanism ever, as you know. Music and nature, even better. I feel your frustration...we all do. Normal has been redefined by this pandemic. Won't take freedom and hugs for granted anymore.
    Good to hear a blog from you,
    hiking pals Mark and Bobbie.


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