Routines, it turns out, are thick and viscous, changing slowly even when they’ve been completely upended. I’ve only recently let go of “this is all temporary” and am stretching into “figure out how to make this work long-term.” Somewhere ahead of me is “new normal,” but I can’t see it yet, so I don’t know what it looks like.
When I was The Kid’s age, we had the Iranian hostage crisis. My parents had the news on every second they were home. I registered the tension more than anything else, but it didn’t have much effect on my day-to-day life. This has upended everything The Kid’s known since she was little, and I suspect New Normal is going to be drastically different, whenever it arrives.
Or maybe not. Humans are a bit stupid that way.
Here are some things that have become obvious:
Federal government is important. It’s always been important. It’s also always been flawed, not just leaving people out, but sometimes aggressively ejecting them. But right now we’re seeing all of those cracks and exclusions expanding and engulfing everyone. Viruses don’t care about your politics or your bank account, although it’s far easier to mitigate your risk if you don’t have to leave the house.
Speaking of viruses, they don’t care how much you screech “fake news.” They also don’t care how much you screech “God.” So many times lately I’m reminded of that old story about God and the drowning man. If the part of our brains that can reason doesn’t count as two boats and a helicopter, I don’t know what does. Y’all know I’m not religious, but I will never understand unscientific religious people, in part because I was raised around scientific religious people. If God is really up there, I imagine him yelling “You know how disease spreads! Stop being nitwits!”
Art feels critical right now. It also feels completely impossible. So here’s a bit of my book, written (mumble) days ago, because lately I can’t get anything out at all.
“You remember what they’ve all just been through, what they’ve all lost.”
Jessica closed her eyes. “I know, Greg.” They all knew. “But that doesn’t make her safe.”
“I didn’t say I thought she was safe,” he said. “But you’re right. I feel responsible for her.” He leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “Jess. Do you trust me?”
Those calm, serious eyes. “Fuck you, Greg.”
“Is that a yes?”
“Fuck you,” she said again. “Yes, I trust you. But that doesn’t make you invulnerable, and it doesn’t make you right.”
Sorry about the swearing.
I suppose I’m not the only person who plunged into this whole self-quarantine thing thinking I’d somehow be wildly productive. Spoiler alert: I have not been wildly productive. I’d been targeting October to release this book, three years after BREACH, but I think I’m better off shooting for March, if I want an anniversary. The trouble is, the anniversary or TCB is bittersweet, and I don’t really like remembering it. So maybe this book can have its own date whenever it’s ready, and it will start a new anniversary tradition.
Other things we’ve learned:
- With a few exceptions, the folks who rake in the most money in our corporate structures are also the most expendable.
- Software could do a lot of good right now, but there’s so much crappy software out there that we’re all suddenly dependent on, and no, I’m not salty, why do you ask?
- Food production and distribution are hugely important, and we’ve been focusing on the wrong end of the food chain there.
- The internet is an essential utility.
- Ditto the post office.
- The most important thing to pay attention to right now is science.
- Compassion and empathy are the only things that are going to get us through this.
- We can divide up the world into chunks however we like, but humans are a single species, and we’re sharing one planet, and we need to start remembering that.
- Ego is the enemy of pretty much everything.
- There’s more work that’s possible to do remotely than we ever thought.
- There’s more work that’s impossible to do remotely than we ever thought.
- Small joys are extraordinarily powerful.
- We—each individual one of us—are so much more important to the world than we’ve been led to believe we are.
I’ve got a newsletter releasing today. Not much in it, except links back to here. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this thing break my streak. It’s a stupid goal, but it’s mine, and there you are.
I’ll end with the thing I tell myself, over and over again, every day: Hold on. Be kind. This will end.