With tens of millions unemployed, more than 110,000 killed by the coronavirus and thousands of people protesting in the streets, Americans see their personal concerns and political choices through a strikingly existential lens — mourning the past, worried about the present and fearful for the future. — Lisa Lerer and David Umhoefer— “Americans can all agree: Future doesn’t look good” / New York Times
“Because survival is insufficient”
Motto of the Traveling Symphony in Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station Eleven.
Recently, my friend John Henry and I had a phone reunion. We talked about our latest, and then the conversation turned to Covid-19 and what would happen. How will it end? What about schools? How can businesses ever fully re-open? Can music, dance and theater ever be performed for live audiences? John Henry’s benefit concert (https://tinyurl.com/y97hbfao) scheduled for March 25th, aimed to help veterans travel to Washington, D.C. to visit war memorials. That was just the first of many casualties.
We must find meaning in the world’s seismic shift. Otherwise, we mentally just run in place.
So how does one live during these times? This is an age of what’s been termed info-besity. One of my first resolutions: do not watch constant news. Is it possible to both be informed and to rise above the endless regurgitation of discouraging happenings? To avoid steady consumption of media updates I stream movies or spend a daily hour or so reading. I indulge my inner book nerd; my taste in books is eclectic. Currently I’m enjoying two very different novels: Sigrid Undset’s The Bridal Wreath, set in the Middle Ages, and Richard Preston’s The Demon in the Freezer, a frightening tale based on a true story. One serves as antidote for the other.
Walking and hiking have also saved me. I’ve returned to the forest, choosing the less-traveled trails and hiking with just one pal (driving separately to the trailheads, wearing a mask when necessary, social distancing).
Most rewarding of all is working on The Hand of Ganesh, my novel-in-progress. Each day I spend time with the two protagonists, Clara Jordan (introduced in All the Wrong Places, available from Pocol Press or Amazon) and Arundhati (“Dottie”) Benet. The book is set in the 1980s – northern New Mexico and India. Going there in my imagination is a great escape from the present. The goal: finishing the first draft by September.
As if the pandemic weren’t enough, we are in the midst of protests about police brutality, racial inequities. Soaring unemployment is bringing people down. We face what might be the hottest summer in the world’s history. How will it end? I agree with John Henry’s conclusion, “We’ll find out by living.”
Join author Elaine Pinkerton for Monday Blogs on adoption, hiking and the writing life. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@TheGoodbyeBaby) Comments are invited. If you’d like to submit a guest blog post (subject to review), please send an email proposal. Thanks for reading!