The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The Beautiful

So much bad news, sad news this morning. So many mistakes made by a government, led by an egomaniac who doesn’t have an empathetic bone in his body. So much needless misery he brought to the country which he is supposed to lead, but doesn’t.

I was treated to a beautiful sunrise this morning, which is often the case. This one was exceptional, I couldn’t get a picture of it. I’m hoping it’s not the only beautiful thing I see today.

I talked to my “little” sister yesterday. She lives outside of Austin TX, with her husband of 43, almost 44, years. She’s been able to work from home, and only works part-time. She’s feeling kind of lucky that she has something to fill half her days. Her husband has been maintaining their huge, entire backyard garden. They are vegan, and grow most of what they eat. He has a degree in agriculture so he knows what he’s doing. But still, they are worried. Not excessively so, but worried. They have kids and grandkids whom they can’t see.

I also spoke to a good friend for a long while yesterday. I generally see her a few times every week. We are both part of Hypatia, my writer’s group, she teaches chair yoga, we both belong to the spirit girls group, and we both go to a lot of the same music venues. But now…I have not seen her in a few weeks. Both of us are enjoying the good parts of quarantine. Neither of us minds the times alone, for the most part. We love the quiet, the lack of traffic, the lack of crowds. But we miss our tribe, that group of us that rely on and love. It was good to catch up with her.

We all see that a lot of good can come from this, and hope that is what the final result is. That when a vaccine is developed and we all get it and this horrible scourge is conquered, that people will remember what was important, and remain kinder, more compassionate, still caring about their neighbors. Will our short term memories forget this, and go back to our old lives? Will a new world order based on love and compassion have started replacing the one that our leader tried to stuff down our throats. The one that teaches each man and woman to be out for themselves, to get as much as they can, and not care if everyone else has enough. The toilet paper shortage is a metaphor for how we’ve been behaving. I am not apart from that, I have about 25 rolls, which sounds like a lot. But honestly, isn’t that much if I’m going to be locked in for a month, at least, but most likely longer. I only have it because Dan managed about a month ago to order 60 rolls from Sam’s Club, and then divided it between his house, my house, his mother’s house and his brother’s house. 15 rolls each. And I had some already.

I went to the grocery store with Dan the other day. We both put bandanas over our faces, and orange rubber gloves on our hands and felt somewhat protected. Though we kind of laughed at ourselves for the bandanas, because we looked like bank robbers, and really did they do much good except to give us enough courage to go into the store? It’s my first time in the store in 3 weeks. Of course, I saw a lot of people with a mask of some kind on. And some gloves. But happily, we found most of the shelves full. I was able to get lots of fresh produce, and some frozen veggies, which they were out of completely when Instacart brought my order.

My son laughed at me for my precautions, for a moment. He’s young, he feels impervious. I reminded him that I am not, impervious. And told him there were quite a few people who were dressed as I was. We are an older population here, unlike his area which is young people. Most people here just do what they are told to. They stay home, they go for walks, they find something productive to do with their time. We all enjoy the peace and quiet.

Occasionally, I wonder how this will all play out, in the end. This spending of trillions of dollars, all the death and pain. All the small businesses that will never recover from this. The town I live in depends on tourist season, which has been cut short this year. From crowded streets to empty ones, from crowded shops and restaurants to no one being open. A few restaurants tried to stay open for take-out, but as of this week, only one of them is left, and I’m sure they are struggling. Many of them were giving away food, dinners, sandwiches. I guess they thought it was better to give it away than throw it away.

It’s a strange new world.

One of the things I like is the quiet. I can sit on my deck, and hear the birds, and the squirrels, and watch the geckos running along the porch. I can meditate out there in peace, which is nice. Except when the guy who lives on the other side of my back fence begins his work. I don’t know him, or what he’s doing, but every day he is out there, the sounds of power tools breaking the lovely silence. Still, it is not as annoying as one might think, because I’m glad to know someone is there. Sometimes it feels like there is no one else around. I try to walk almost every day, in the morning. I might see a couple of people out walking their dogs. I might see a single car driving down the street.

Obviously, I am having a hard time, at times, wrapping my head around this whole thing. Too many things to even try to rationalize in any way. I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m sure this head spinning I do occasionally is a collective WTF, from all people everywhere. I read more WTF news every day. I don’t listen to it or watch it much, because too many people pretending they have a handle on what’s happening, spinning it to make their side look better and the other side look bad. I say, leadership comes from above, and we don’t have a leader. His approval ratings have jumped up, but are still below 50%. Many of us remember that after 9/11 Bush’s ratings were over 90%. Usually, the country can unite behind the president. In this case, many of us blame him for the intensity of this disaster. His glib, stupid remarks that it was a hoax, his refusal to even acknowledge it as a problem here until it was beyond stopping. When I do watch him, it isn’t for long. He’s out there, trying to get credit for doing things that he should have done in January and February. He’s denying the stupid stuff he says, sometimes the next day.

I love the fact that many businesses didn’t wait for his instructions, but began retooling to make the things we needed. Two distilleries in St. Petersburg began making hand sanitizer and then giving it away in a drive-through line. Back when our president and governor wouldn’t even give a stay at home order. Florida’s order finally went into effect today. A state whose population is 40% over the age of 60. Not that those of us over 60 were stupid enough to wait for a presidential or gubernatorial order. I’ve been isolating for about 3 weeks now, as have been most of the people I know. But this is a small town, and who knows what people are doing in the cities.

I do love the sense of cooperation among people. I love that I constantly see in my FB feed calls for a worldwide healing meditation. Free online courses for mindfulness. Reminders to be grateful for what we have. In this case, the admonishment of “There’s always something to be thankful for, even if it’s just our breath” is uniquely pertinent. The virus steals our breath from us. That thing we can always count on for a return to focus, a reminder to be mindful, to be grateful. We have to be vigilant not to let it steal our joy from us.

I realize I am not my usual positive, happy self this morning. I guess this is a stream of consciousness writing. Trying to sort out the thoughts in my head, and bring my head back around to being mindful, that I am fine, I have everything I need right now. I am grateful for so much. I will try to focus on gratitude and hope for the remainder of the day.

Stay home, stay safe, stay well. Love and light to all.

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