We are living in strange times. What used to be up, feels down. What was once down, feels up. Days go by as we wonder which day of the week we are moving through. How did we ever keep up with our lives before this? And why did things like labels, dates, and times really matter so much? We laugh and poke fun at our humanness. We fret. We grow angry. We grieve. We share stories. And then we get back to the business at hand.
Self-distancing, quarantine, flatten the curve, isolation: words that were once remote or considered jargon are very close and used more than I ever thought I would say or hear them. But here we are.
Everyone is dealing with covid-19 in their own ways. My days haven’t changed too much. I work from home. As a writer, income is always insecure and uncertain. And I rarely move beyond my garden or neighborhood. I’m a homebody. I’m saddened by the folks whose lives have changed drastically, financially, physically, and permanently in many different ways. And I know that at any time, my life could be upended, as well. That’s nothing new, either. I have gone through life waiting for the next shoe to drop, the next devastating phone call, impending doom. It doesn’t make me pessimistic, on the contrary, it makes me wildly hopeful and full of gratitude for everything I have right now.
It seems trite to write about my writer’s residency Feb-March 5. So, I won’t. Or can’t right now. Matter-of-fact, these words I sit and write today are the first real words I’ve written since I left the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. The words are in my head and don’t seem to want to appear on paper. Yet. But soon, I tell myself. Be gentle, I tell myself.
Until then, hope sustains me.
Last night I walked the greenways by my house with my husband. The first butterfly of the season, an Easter Tiger Swallowtail, flew over our heads and landed right beside me on a shrub. Hope. Bluebirds are nesting in the bluebird house in my garden. Hope. The earth is bursting forth in flowers and greenery. Hope. Squirrels still scamper and excavate winter’s acorns. Hope. Good people everywhere are coming together to be part of the solution. Hope. Brave nurses and doctors. Hope. Everyone who is making the best of a difficult situation. Hope.
I just wrote a few words when I didn’t think writing was possible. Hope.
I am also finding hope in poetry, like this relevant poem by Ada Limón.
Instructions on Not Giving Up
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.
Copyright © 2017 by Ada Limón.
Listen to the poet speak the poem on Poets.org
Where are you finding hope?
A few recent pics of what brings me hope.
Your posts, photos, and words also bring me hope. Thank you.
Be well. Stay safe. And may all beings be happy, healthy, safe, and free of suffering.