What do we do now? Really, this question brings us all to the crux of the problem. By now we have all heard the message, and are either isolated, quarantined or distanced. Some cannot… medical professionals, first responders, service-members, grocers, those who must just to put food on the table, among many, many others… and we owe them all debts of gratitude that are immeasurable. If we are among the privileged who can and do not, we are either unrepentantly arrogant or critically stupid. So what’s next?
What will be my part? I don’t have a sewing machine to make PPE for emergency workers, I don’t have a craft that I can spin into a fund raiser. There are three things:
1. Our local United Way has set up a COVID-19 section on their volunteer page and it includes opportunities for everything from delivering meals to specific needs for shelters. What appeals to me are opportunities to help veterans. None of them require a significant time investment, all of them seem consistent with the CDC recommendations for distancing, and each of them represents a little something we can do.
2. I am a creative, I must write to help me process intellectually and emotionally. For years I hid this away from people I worked with and closest friends often to the detriment of meaningful relationships. My goal from the very beginning of my blogging experience was not only to provide a forum for me to share my own writing, but to encourage and promote other creatives knowing how essential having these things is to my own well-being. So both here and at the Go Dog Go Cafe, I will offer a forum and words of encouragement to support anyone needing it for their creative processing during these crazy times.
3. This will pass and when it does, I want to be in front of children teaching them the power and importance of literature and creative writing to help us find our common humanity during unimaginable times. When I am old and bent over my cane, I want to be remembered as “that crazy, bearded teacher who believed in us.” This dream will not happen by chance and I don’t plan on deferring it for a virus, or for anything or anyone, anymore. So I need to get to work.
I have struggled throughout my life with feelings of meaninglessness, that my life didn’t matter when compared to those who came before me or were better at things than I was. For some reason poetry and writing came to me, and yet I should probably see a therapist to better understand the complexities of why I was afraid to share this passion with those closest to me. Their indifference? My fear of rejection? My desire to be “normal”? Not being good enough? I don’t have the time or money to sort it out now, I just know what I must do and that is write and find some way to help those who are struggling more than me.
But I also want to be honest. I AM really struggling right now, like everyone. This COVID-19 thing has me frightened I will never see my kids again, that my estranged oldest son and I will never find our path to reconciliation, that my mother might get exposed before I get back to New England. There are moments and days when I need an army of people to remind me that I have meaning, when I need constant reminders that it will be okay, when I need my Clarence to earn his ring of a bell. This too will pass and I will be here for you, whomever that you ends up being. I just wish that you would take the time to read what I write because it means a lot to me.
For those who turned their backs and walked away, I am sorry, but honored for the chance I had to add value to your lives, and now wish you well as you move on without me. If you so choose, I will be here, a better man than the one you last met.
What do we do now? Our best. I believe in you, in us, in something better than distraction, indifference, and complacency. Now, let’s start ringing some bells and remind one person who is isolated, quarantined, distanced that we miss them and look forward to seeing them again.