The IM Saturday Monks Brunch
I have a new favorite band. They remind a lot of the energy and joy we enjoyed with our kids when they were young. The Clarks are putting up videos every day on YouTube during the pandemic shutdown. I have had so much fun watching these — and let me tell you, they’re good! This little girl, in particular, is going to be a star.
So may I introduce to you Colt Clark and the Quarantine Kids.
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Today, I thought I’d share some folks’ personal reflections from the quarantine that have been published at various places around the web. It’s always fascinating hearing what people are doing and thinking in difficult times like these. We’ll sprinkle these throughout the Brunch.
So here is how I have been doing.
I’ve been waking up feeling paralyzed. Overwhelmed. Helpless. I’ve been going to bed disappointed by lack of productivity and optimism that day and hoping to wake up feeling different (more sanguine or bad-ass or something).
Self-care routines—not so much, honestly. I haven’t been live-streaming workouts and getting in the best shape of my life. I’ve actually been sitting on my butt all day. I’ve slacked off on my daily meditation. I have not been motivated to use the time saved not commuting to take up knitting or bread baking. I haven’t Marie Kondo’d my bedroom, or done quarintinis with friends over FaceTime. (I have been scrolling through Instagram watching other people doing these things, and wondering what’s wrong with me that I cannot.)
Instead of diligently limiting my news updates to hourly intervals or curated newsletters, I’ve been frantically flipping through the permanently open tabs on my laptop and refreshing the feeds on my phone every few minutes. (What will go to shit next?)
Work-wise, I’ve been doing what feels like more or less the bare minimum and having a hell of a time concentrating.
Food? I’m not getting creative with a can of chickpeas (despite having written this last week) or sticking to three square meals a day. I’m spooning peanut butter into my mouth at odd intervals and working alarmingly quickly through the one-pound bar of chocolate from Trader Joe’s that was supposed to last a couple of weeks.
• Carolyn L. Todd, Is Anyone Else Just Barely Functioning Right Now?
During a shutdown, the things that mark our days—commuting to work, sending our kids to school, having a drink with friends—vanish and time takes on a flat, seamless quality. Without some self-imposed structure, it’s easy to feel a little untethered. A friend recently posted on Facebook: “For those who have lost track, today is Blursday the fortyteenth of Maprilay.” …
Giving shape to time is especially important now, when the future is so shapeless. We do not know whether the virus will continue to rage for weeks or months or, lord help us, on and off for years. We do not know when we will feel safe again. And so many of us, minus those who are gifted at compartmentalization or denial, remain largely captive to fear. We may stay this way if we do not create at least the illusion of movement in our lives, our long days spent with ourselves or partners or families.
• Heidi Pitlor, Days without Name: On Time in the Time of Coronavirus
[N]o matter how much Christians talk about God’s presence, I know that I have always been much more attuned to God’s absence. Mine is the type of faith known as the Apophatic way: a form of spirituality that asserts that the only way to speak of God is by negation—by saying not what God is but rather what God is not. That way of speaking has become my métier as we face a pandemic that hundreds of thousands cannot possibly survive. “Where are you?” I ask as I go through my day. I’ve never been much bothered by God’s all-too-often apparent absence. But these days, I find myself asking questions. “Are you really there, God? I mean, really there? People are dying, God. Millions of people are sick. More than two hundred thousand have died. And I fear that’s just the beginning.” Like the children of Israel so long ago, I wander in this wilderness and I cry out, “Is the Lord among us, or not?”
…Simone Weil, the French philosopher and mystic, wrote: “Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link.” I experience the absence of my loved ones, of my God. But without absence, can there ever really be presence? I’m not sure. Somehow, I think not. Every separation is a link. Absence creates a space where presence can be sought. And, just maybe, where presence can be discovered.
• Mark A. Jenkins, Absence
It’s a nice illusion—nice to feel like we’re in it together, even if my real world has shrunk to one person, my husband, who sits with his laptop in the other room. It’s nice in the same way as reading those essays that reframe social distancing as solidarity. “We must begin to see the negative space as clearly as the positive, to know what we don’t do is also brilliant and full of love,” the poet Anne Boyer wrote on March 10th, the day that Massachusetts declared a state of emergency. If you squint, you could almost make sense of this quarantine as an effort to flatten, along with the curve, the distinctions we make between our bonds with others. Right now, I care for my neighbor in the same way I demonstrate love for my mother: in all instances, I stay away.
And in moments this month, I have loved strangers with an intensity that is new to me. On March 14th, the Saturday night after the end of life as we knew it, I went out with my dog and found the street silent: no lines for restaurants, no children on bicycles, no couples strolling with little cups of ice cream. It had taken the combined will of thousands of people to deliver such a sudden and complete emptiness. I felt so grateful, and so bereft.
• Nora Caplan-Bricker, Lost Illusions
We’ll say goodbye with an encore from the Clark family, in hopes that baseball will return soon and the strains of this song will echo through Fenway Park once again.