The three things we are warned to never to talk about – “politics, religion and money” – feel inescapable. But escape we must. Some of us escape to Sunday football, some escape to the mountains, some relish in-house chores. The important thing is to take time off from the discourse, enter a calm mental space, and find a morsel of gratitude. In the midst of this pandemic, a survival toolkit might be necessary.
In the run-up to an election, we can’t avoid the political talking heads. With the recent death of RBG and the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, religion entered the stage. But now, with the New York Times expose claiming President Trump’s tax evasions over the past 11 years, money is in the hot seat. Adult conversations have not been too uplifting as of late, so it takes a deliberate step away from the news to find alternate topics worthy of discussion.
Kids help. Kid conversations at our house lately have centered around superheroes and Halloween costumes. Costumes – that’s a fun one, but then we have to qualify it: “Halloween probably won’t be the same this year.” Stay positive: “That’s okay, we can still make costumes and have a candy scavenger hunt!” See, nothing like crises to spawn creativity.
There has yet to be a compelling superhero that battles viruses – whoever it is, it will be masked for sure. What would an anti-viral superhero look like? A galactic Bill Gates with Y-shaped mallets for hands cloaked in a protein shield. Let your imagination have fun. Imagination is the best distraction.
Laughter helps too. I have taken to binge-watching comedy shorts by the Holderness Family on YouTube for intermittent doses of serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with laughter because it truly is the best medicine.
Saturday market also offers a great distraction. The vendors and farmers have been dutifully showing up on Saturdays creating a semblance of a much-needed sense of community. This has become a necessary visitation for me, because as if you are like me, the thing I am missing the most from this pandemic is the broader community.
While we all continue to balance the new school and work schedules, and develop our toolkit to get by day-to-day in this new and evolving reality, it has become clear to me that we haven’t really had a conversation about the loss of community. I think we all feel it at some level.
From everyday, common encounters at school pick-ups from organized gatherings, the loss has been cumulative for me. There have been some underlying blessings and closer bonds formed with my “quaran-team” members, and to this I am grateful. But it’s the infrequent, reliable run-ins at social events like arts shows, a potluck, a pick-up at the soccer field when we get to check in with acquaintances and old friends we don’t see on a daily basis. I have met people for the first time exclusively on Zoom and have yet to meet them in person in Twisp. It is truly a new reality that we’ve been ushered into.
It essential to find laughter, to imagine, to connect and to escape. At least that has been my recipe for survival. The larches are turning and now is the time to visit our old yellow friends in the mountains. You will be happy you did.