Certainty in an Uncertain Time

Well, here we are, and all our lives have quickly changed in many ways both big and small – hopefully temporarily, but I think we’re beyond presuming to know what will happen next, or how long it will take before the crisis fades and we can truly take stock of things. Meanwhile, for the time being, and for the first time in our lives (at least to this extent), we are living in oddly repressed conditions, with degrees of fear and concern always casting long and shifting shadows over us. Being less active than normal has seldom been so hard.

During times of difficulty, such as we are all sharing now, I think we tend to desire the basic pleasures of normalcy more than anything else – the little things so often taken for granted because we don’t, at the time, think they can ever really be taken away. Then they are, and we want them back: a visit with a family member, a cup of coffee at a café, a romantic dinner out, a drink downtown with friends, a casual trip to a “non-essential” store…or maybe a day at work around colleagues, an open business, a hug or handshake without hesitation, or a paycheck.

Yet we adapt, temporarily or otherwise, to whatever the occasion requires of us. And as we all do our best to adjust, I’ve noticed a trend on social media over the last week that has provided a much-needed emotional break.

People are posting photos of their favorite paintings. Reviews of their favorite movies. Recommendation lists of their favorite books. Playlists of their favorite songs. Pics of their collections. Details about their hobbies. Collections of their favorite quotes. Small performances and readings. On his website, Brian May of Queen is posting daily “MicroConcertos” and other things from his home – guitar solos, snippets of Queen songs, brief tutorials, daily thoughts, and good, reasoned information on the pandemic – and they are a wonderful, warm comfort.

All of these are passions, both large and small. And sharing them allows us to stay connected to each other by focusing on what we love in the midst of difficulty…which is exactly when such passions really matter the most. It is gratifying to be reminded that art and artistry, in all its many forms, can always, always be counted on to comfort and inspire us…and also bring us together.

For the last week and a half I’ve been teaching my classes online, and I miss seeing my students every day. Much of what made me want to be a teacher is the enjoyment I receive simply by being around people, and it looks as though we won’t be together again in an actual classroom for a long time. But two days ago I started using QuickTime to record mini-lectures and respond to their questions…It seemed far more organic and natural than trying to type everything out. The response was very positive, so I’m now getting into the routine of making daily recordings for them. Again, it’s creating a form of connection.

This led to another idea, also related to the topic above. I thought I’d try reading and recording some of my favorite poems and short stories – pieces by some of my favorite writers that I’ve gone back to time and again over the years – then post them here every few days. It’s something, like the recorded mini-lectures, that I’ve never tried before. Now seems the right time.

I’m starting out with a piece by Alfred Lord Tennyson, called “Nothing Will Die.” David Lynch used a portion of it at the end of The Elephant Man, and ever since I first heard it there, it’s been a favorite. It also seems appropriate.

Wishing good health to all, until the next time. And remember, “Nothing is worth more than this day.” — Goethe

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s