I was about to post this yesterday, when all hell broke loose in DC, and it seemed like nothing would ever be the same. But now that the election has been certified, it looks like things will go on as usual, and until January 20thwe will resume our watch for the daily presidential outrage. So what I wrote earlier in the week still applies.
Out walking Bisou in the murky grayness, I detect another human coming in my direction. From the butterflies knitted into her woolen hat, I conclude that it is a woman, possibly one I know well.
“Hi!” she mutters into her mask, “how are you?”
“Well, you know…” I shrug. “And you?”
“Could be worse, I guess,” she says.
About half of my interactions these days are like that one. The other half take place on Zoom. Those conversations are longer, but they hinge on three topics: the awfulness of politics, the horrors of the pandemic, and how grateful we should be that we have it so good.
I am all for gratitude. It can make us more contented, kinder, not to mention better company. However, when I hear people reflect on how lucky we are and how grateful we should be because things could be so much worse, I am driven even deeper into the slough of despond.
I know that, compared to the rest of humanity, I am immensely, even grotesquely, fortunate. But I don’t see how that is supposed to cheer me up. When I compare my life to that of people dying alone in ICUs, their weary nurses, their disconsolate families, the unemployed in danger of being evicted, and the single parents trying to work from home in the company of their terminally bored toddlers, I feel not only sorrow for their suffering, but guilt because I’m not out there making things better. And on top of that, I feel guilty for not being a more positive, optimistic, glass-half-full kind of person.
The two other topics, politics and the pandemic, are inherently depressing. And, to make matters worse, they have stayed soul-killingly the same month after month. Sure, there have been moments (Biden! Vaccines! Georgia!) when the sun has parted the clouds, but mostly the two topics elicit only moaning and lamentation: “Can you believe what he did today?” followed by “Did you see those clips of people in bars, with not a mask in sight?”
Round and round we go, my friends and I, shaking our heads until they are in danger of falling off the frail stalks of our necks. What else is there to talk about? Nothing comes to MY mind, that’s for sure.
I look desperately around my cottage/hermitage for topics to write about: the dog (done that); the cat (ditto); the spouse (out of bounds); my past (can’t remember a thing). The squirrels, the birds, and the houseplants have remained mind-numbingly constant in their habits. My brain is like a house after the movers have left, where only dust bunnies and a tangle of forgotten wire hangers remain as evidence of a once rich and active life….