Silver Linings In The Storm
Apr 17, 2020
As mid-March crept in, and the news got worse and worse, the panic buying began. Certain paper products and cleaning agents were nowhere to be found, just wiped out from the stores. Reports and figures of exponential increases in sicknesses and deaths from Covid-19 crept in, and they were happening in the U.S., in California where I live. They were happening all over the world. It became clear that this wasn't a drill. The part time work I did to support my art career just dried up that week, demand dramatically down. And then the stay at home orders were issued, which for me, was the final notice that things were shifting, changing, and truly bizarre.
I suppose the first few days of this were disorienting, spending the majority of my time at home, sort of wondering what to do besides indulging in this sort of nagging obsession to check the news every few minutes for the latest on the horrors of the current outside world. My part time work didn't classify as an "essential" job, and it involved regular close contact with a few dozen strangers each day, so that job was temporarily out. My new life was at home, or outside for jogging or the trails that I could walk to that weren't closed by local authorities. Like most people placed in similar situations, it involved a tweak of habits, and a new way of thinking.
What came as a blessing for me was the realization of a number of genuine silver linings that began to emerge. While income became non-existent, nearly all of my creditors were shockingly mellow with allowing bill payments to be postponed for a month or two, which eased stress enormously and basically bought time for me to focus on my creative pursuits with photography. I was able to dive deep into old hard drives to peruse content photos I shot from 15 years ago, images that had somehow escaped my radar, a few of which I have since put on the website as I feel they merit the inclusion. Time for my writing has vastly increased, an activity I find challenging but rewarding and which yields a cathartic sort of energy, an activity I just flat out didn't have time for when the standard hustle and bustle of daily life was the norm. More time has even been spent in the kitchen learning a few new recipes that I surely wouldn't have attempted during periods of hectic status quo.
To me the most interesting set of experiences I've come across during this phase, this prolonged period of relative isolation, are the moments of meditation - for lack of a better word - that seem to arise naturally, that didn't arise before at least for me. It's a little hard to put a finger on, and by meditation I don't mean any sort of proper meditative practice in a seated upright posture with a focal point in front of me. What I mean is, things just happen, normal activities - watering the lawn, making a few moments of direct eye contact with a deer on a trail, watching a cloud float and twist and flutter away - where I am able to just be there and observe, without much thought, without concepts racing around my mind. Just sort of locked in. And I feel like when things are normal and crazy, I wasn't tuned into this sort of receptive state, my antennae having been only wired to work, work, work. This newfound slowness is one I've just embraced, and in doing so my mind feels clearer and more limpid than it has in years.
I suppose I feel somewhat bad about admitting these things, these silver linings that have accompanied times filled with such dark circumstances for much of the world's population. But I also feel like I'd be crazy to tune these silver linings out, to mute them gray, because they just keep popping up, these little notes of positivity that help keep afloat and give counterpoint to what's in general a sad song. I hope you have found some of these too, and I pray they get us all safely to the other side of this.