reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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initiative. [flawed wednesday]

(sign on the door of the milwaukee institute of art & design)

a year and a half.

jen told me yesterday that the 1918 pandemic, though most often referred to as a two-year pandemic, actually lasted two and a half years.

two and a half years.

i shudder to think of the toll this pandemic will have taken if it lasts yet another year or more. we have learned so much; we have learned so little. the pandemic has been like a kaleidoscope and like a microscope, both. it has scattered us into constantly changing patterns and it has brought everything into minute focus. yet i wonder where this will take us.

artists aren’t typically conservative in-the-boxers. we take risks, live gig lifestyles, put ourselves out there, are vulnerable and push back against things we consider inequities, ironic double-talk, disinterest in humanitarianism, opacity where transparency is touted. we aren’t quiet, for it is our job to speak – in whatever medium our talent. we are, as artists, there to raise questions, to promote pondering, communicate ideas, tell stories, express emotion, encourage engagement, inspire connection and collaboration, reiterate interdependence of all people.

though this burden does not remain singly on the shoulders of artists, even banksy has participated in making statements about safety and guidelines in this pandemic. i’m not sure how much more blatant it needs to be. encouraging covid-19 responsibility, his work in the london tube in july 2020 was titled, “if you don’t mask, you don’t get.” he spray-paints the words, “i get lockdown, but i get up again” at the end of the video featuring his rats on the tube.

though attendees were 100% vaccinated, the invitation read, “masks required at all times unless actively eating or drinking.” they provided masks, sweet ones with the initials of the wedding couple and a heart. the venues had high high ceilings, exposed rafters and ductwork. the wedding was outside, cocktail hour was outside, dancing was outside.

when the rain came, we all kept dancing. outside, twinkling lights all around, we breathed in fresh air. even with masks on.

“a lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.” (banksy)

initiative (noun): the ability to assess and initiate things independently; the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do.

the milwaukee institute of art and design has posted signs on all their doors. they have taken a stance.

wearing a mask in public spaces – and vaccination – have been scientifically proven to lower the rate of transmission, sickness and death of a deadly global pandemic. already a year and a half.

exactly what additional kind of initiative do you need?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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creeping pigweed. [merely-a-thought monday]

i know little to nothing about farming. driving through eastern colorado, missouri, all of kansas, iowa and across the state of wisconsin, there are patchworks of farmfields that stretch on seemingly forever. gorgeous and rich in the colors of good dirt and rising plants, we admired the quilted beauty of our roadtrip and talked about farming as we passed the lives of people we would never meet.

the billboard read, “don’t let pigweed creep back!” it was an imperative to research. pigweed is, apparently, insidious and something that hardworking people who have chosen crop-growing, stock, and all means of agriculture, have to deal with. pigweed can be toxic to livestock and will aggressively take over grain and soybean fields. it is resistant to mitigation and hard to control. it can be destructive. once eradicated, one must remain vigilant about its presence so as to avoid further damage to crops and animals.

i am struck by how this invasive plant mimics what has happened in the political arena of our living.

we had just, a mere couple hours before, stopped at a gas station to fill up big red and run into the restroom. wearing masks, we entered the convenience store where all conversation stopped as the door swung closed behind us. no one inside had on a mask and the stares at us were pointed and aggressive. it was unnerving. had we entered a miraculous-global-pandemic-free zone? or had we entered inside a building where pigweed had never left, where the insidious, toxic dis-ease of misinformation and selfishness was spreading its roots, reaching out underground and above to damage all within its cloying and suffocating grasp? is there no hope for this place with entrenched pigweed?

it would seem to me, as we read the current news of steps forward, of good intentions, of attempts to advance efforts toward equity and equality, social justice, healthcare, hunger and homelessness, of work to aid in getting past this horrid pandemic and all its fallout, that we should do all we can to not let pigweed creep back.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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masks and pedestals. [two artists tuesday]

i have never been a fan of pedestals. pedestals encourage blind faith in someone human, not really useful in a world of imperfection. pedestals encourage a spirit of elitism, that kind of ladder-rung-sorting not really useful in a world striving for equality, for unity. pedestals encourage silence, not really useful in a world where chinwags and truth should go hand in hand.

when i was not yet a teenager, in 1969, my big brother got married. he and my sister-in-law, even at their own young ages, became really involved in marriage encounter – a weekend retreat celebrating marriage and delving into “vivencia”, the life experiences that brought them each to where they were together. because i adored my brother and his wife, and because i spent an inordinate amount of time with them, they included me in on their learnings and encouraged me to reflect on my own shaping and dreams. i will not forget the conversations we had about masks.

we talked about mask-wearing for long hours over mounds of ice cream and big glasses of iced coffee. my brother was adamant about dropping the elastic bands holding the mask over one’s face, in opening eyes that had been tightly shut, locking out verity. his words about being who you are – who you really are – not who the mask you are wearing says you are or how it hides who you are – echo in my mind and have partnered with my own feelings about pedestals.

i have had to revisit his words likely a zillion times through my life and wish he were sitting here now to continue the conversation with him.

filling in the blank with a person-put-on-a-pedestal or one-wearing-a-false-mask, i have been reminded time and again that just because _____ said something (whatever that something is) doesn’t mean it’s right.

i have silently thanked my big brother again and again for reminding me, with that nagging voice in my head that eschews ladder-runging, of the value of each one of us, sans pedestals, sans masks.

i have sought, both with success and with failure, to stay true to his important words, to identify any masks-in-the-moment, mine or those of others, to stand on the ground next to each other, in the middle of generous strengths and vulnerable weaknesses, struggling on the human seesaw of magnanimity and selfish motives, giving up any expectation of perfection in exchange for the acknowledgement of limitations and the offer of hope, trying to just be.

pedestals and masks, both wearying, both a waste of good living, both not really useful on this good earth in trying to just be. thank you, my big bro, for the reminder in the ice on the deck.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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covid test. the unknown. [merely-a-thought monday]

the unknown is often worse than reality. i had all kinds of monsters in my head battering my nerves, just thinking about having a covid test. i wasn’t feeling well and, with my symptoms aligning with the utterly vast myriad of symptoms attributable to coronavirus, i was checking the list and checking it twice. worried and already quarantining for 14 days since we had been exposed, we scheduled tests. and i started getting nervous. it felt like we were living inside a sci-fi movie.

my adrenaline was rushing before we left the house. i felt shaky. it was a big response to what must have been a letdown for that adrenaline rush. the test itself was easy, painless. it was a rapid test and we knew we would find out our results in a mere half hour.

david’s came – “negative,” read the email. my email asked me to come back inside for a confirmatory test, a specimen that would be sent to a lab for results that might have a slightly lower degree of fallibility. we went back in, standing on the dots stickering the floor, slathering with hand sanitizer, speaking through two-ply masks. and now, we wait.

we have been inordinately careful. we’ve been wearing masks, washing hands, our fruit, the bottles of wine gift-delivered at our front door. we’ve wiped our groceries and kept our mail separated. we have distanced and not gathered. we have worried about ourselves. we have worried about my girl and my boy. we have worried about david’s parents and all our family members out of town. we have worried about the people in our community, the customers and staff at the corner store, the people in line at the grocery. we have tried to be respectful. it has mattered.

a friend re-posted a meme today that read, “it shouldn’t have to happen to you for it to matter to you.” this feels like the baseline, a low bar of compassion, the starting gate of people taking precautions to protect other people. it has been stunning to watch people of this country ignore all cautions about a pandemic raging across the nation. a dear friend, way earlier in the year and in the early arc of this devastating disease sweeping the world, wrote that the lyrics “you would cry too if it happened to you” were on replay in her mind. a number of people were quoted as saying, “i don’t know how to explain to you why you should care about other people.”

what does it take?

there truly are no exceptions. we have been instructed in the use of masks, the advantages of social distancing, the merits of proper handwashing. as things have been escalating up the devastation scale, we have been encouraged to limit our gatherings, to not travel, to not have parties, to not make exceptions. because, truly, there aren’t any. every one of our lives is valuable. every single one. to be cavalier is to take chances. big chances. it is all an unknown.

healthcare workers and hospitals are overwhelmed. they are at the brink of collapse. yet, households of people are gathering together, playing a russian roulette covid game. citizens of this country are dying in situations that are “harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary.” yet, people are refusing to wear a simple piece of cloth on their face. the statistics of this pandemic are exponentially climbing. yet, people on the trail fail to move six feet away as they pass, people in the grocery store have masks around their chins, people regularly scoff at the science – S C I E N C E – that is guiding the medical experts.

on monday evening, in the middle of our quarantine, i had intense pain breathing. my lungs, my windpipe, my trachea were on fire when i took a deep breath. i had a video chat with a nurse who told me to go to the ER and have an EKG to rule out a heart event. i did not believe i was having a heart event. to me, it seemed pretty clear that it was a breathing issue, but there are definite limitations to having a medical visit online and i understood her desire to err on the side of caution. because of the sheer arrogance of people who scorn the restrictions to help with this pandemic, our healthcare system has been forced to regulate that only patients are allowed into the hospital. the very idea that i would be going A-L-O-N-E into the hospital, perhaps with something serious, was more terrifying than not going. thank you to all those people in this country who have foisted this gross unfairness on anyone suffering, on anyone in a medical emergency, on anyone hospitalized for absolutely any reason. the lack of compassion for others is abhorrent.

one morning we made a big pot of texas chili. we loaded a folding table into little-baby-scion. we packed plates and plasticware and cups. we drove over to 20’s and set up our folding table at least 8 feet from his folding table in his open garage. and we had chili together with our coats on and blankets covering our legs in the open-air cold garage. two days later he had symptoms and two days after that he tested positive. his covid was gifted to him from a friend of his sister’s who casually walked into his sister’s apartment while he was working there. she wore no mask and boasted of a party she had attended. she clearly did not care. it did not matter to her that 20 has chronic asthma or that his sister has a compromised immune system. her freedom to not have a piece of cloth over her face was more important.

he called us to tell us. that was the beginning of our 14 days. we didn’t go anywhere except outside to walk. no stores, no gatherings, nothing. nowhere. it was unknown to us if we were contagious. it was unknown to us if david was asymptomatic. it was unknown to us if my symptoms were covid. but it mattered to us.

meanwhile, 20, who needs a new cellphone did not purchase one. “why not?” i battered him with questions. he told us that he didn’t want to spend the money if he wasn’t going to live. the unknown. i want to shake the supposed-friend of his sister’s who just didn’t care. “what is wrong with you?” i want to scream at her.

and now. waiting. by the time this publishes i hope that i am done waiting. but in the meanwhile, i am waiting. for the unknown.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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discarded. [flawed wednesday]

discarded.

i have a collection of photographs of discarded masks.

i’m hoping that it’s not because they weren’t valued, but instead, because they had run their course, or maybe, because they were in someone’s hand, along with keys and wallets and water bottles and kind bars and albanese gummi bears, and somehow, got dropped.

at this moment, when wisconsin is at one of the highest in covid-19 numbers, and the country is flailing around trying to tread water and not really holding its own against a global pandemic virus, i just want to plea with you one more time.

please wear a mask. please wear this cloth covering over your nose and mouth. please. wear it.

about 40% of the people at woodman’s grocery store the other day did not do this. ohhhhh, they wore a mask, for sure. but it was under their nose or cupping their chin; they were dedicated to the vernacular, not the actual fact that it is a protective measure. i am deeply saddened by these people. i don’t know what would prevent you from wanting safety for yourself and others, but i know that kind of ignorant move can only be attributed to the direct infusion of falsehoods, lies, misinformation, warping of the truth. and i ask the question a friend of mine posed weeks ago, leaning on the words of the song, “would you cry too if it happened to you?”

please. wear. a. mask.

until it is time to no longer do so.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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back the **** up! [d.r . thursday]

i have hugged exactly two people since the pandemic started.

two people. one is my husband, who i’ve been hugging daily. and, this past wednesday, finally, at long last, after seven months of not seeing him, and with great forethought, i hugged my son. that’s it. no best friends. no dear friends. no sweet neighbors. no co-workers. no one else. just two. matter of fact, i had an extended conversation a while back with my daughter and, in the middle of a discussion about possibly having a long-long-long overdue visit out in the high mountains and the absolute need to hug, even mask-on-face-turned, her admonishment to stave me away from the rampant numbers there at that time, “how will you not hug me, mom?”

so walking in front of the neighborhood store, about to put my mask on, imagine my astonishment when someone i haven’t seen in almost a decade called out my name, ran up and hugged me. HUGGED me.

this was an adult! an adult exhaling cigarette smoke. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on and no acknowledgement that i was in the process of putting my mask on but hadn’t completed the motion. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on and no acknowledgement of my incomplete-mask-putting-on-action who completely ignored my stepping-back-hand-out-clear-non-verbal-please-back-the-****-up behavior.

daaaaaaamn. i was shocked. it’s a freaking pandemic. my hug-quota is sorely lacking and yet, it is i who should choose who i would like to sacrifice my safety for in order to hug. did i mention? it’s a pandemic!

when i regained my composure on the sidewalk a few blocks away, i reviewed my actions. david, who was clear i did not want to hug this person, said i sent all the right signals. i reviewed it all again. i mean, i am a huggy person and this person would likely remember me as such. this wasn’t a cold reaction to the person; it was a reaction to the social distancing guidelines that we have been encouraged to follow in order to not spread or contract covid-19. i mean, it’s a pandemic!

what would YOU do?

i suppose next time – if this happens again – i could, as fast as my mouth could manage, say, “it-would-be-nice-to-be-able-to-hug-you-but-right-now-in-the-pandemic-i-am-not-hugging-people-sorry-don’t-take-it-personally.” only this wouldn’t have worked. she came at me in a warped speed tunnel…she went directly from the curb to hugging in seconds flat without stopping, without exhaling the cigarette smoke, without donning a mask, without passing go, without collecting $200, without stopping to think, “oh yeah, it’s a pandemic! i shouldn’t be hugging her.”

or, since that likely wouldn’t work in the warp-speed version, i could say in a loud assertive outdoor voice, “back up!” or i could use 20’s spicier version of that (only i won’t print that here.)

either way, it’s alarming to be put in a position like that.

david’s momma told us about a woman who spontaneously hugged her when jeanne gave the woman tomatoes. it horrified my mother-in-law, who then went home and showered and washed all her clothes. at the time i wondered how that could ever happen. well. silly me. s**t happens.

this is such an odd time. it’s scary all the way around. we have been inordinately careful, like many of our dearest friends. we are making choices based on what are the safest behaviors. the fact that someone can just arbitrarily take away your choice – during a pandemic (don’t know if i mentioned that yet) – is bracing.

i will have to have a plan of action for the next time. practice it. evaluate it. practice it again. make it a reflex. and make it flipping obvious.

in the meanwhile, i want my hug back. i need it for people i have actually been dying to hug.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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the pied piper. [flawed wednesday]

“while some will see the pied piper and his power as the devil, an evil entity that lures innocents away to their death, other interpretations see something entirely different: a christ-like savior.” (aimee h)

and there we have it.

this country has its very own pied piper. and in no way can this be a good thing.

“the term “pied piper”: … someone who, by means of personal charm, entices people to follow him or her, usually to disappointment or misfortune.” (maeve maddox)

without evidence nor using factual information, as is his unfortunate and biased practice, back in the early stages of this pandemic, the president of this country belittled others for wearing masks, and did not publicly himself wear a mask until mid-july, despite his presence in public places amongst citizens of this country deserving of respect and safety. his failure to make mask-wearing a national mandate in those earliest days of disease undermined the efforts of pandemic-fighters-treaters-sufferers across the country.

thus set the stage.

he pied-pipered his way all over fox news and media-biased outlets; he tooted his pipe into conspiracy theories, never taking responsibility for the safety of his populace. instead he led millions of people over the cliff and almost 190,000 people into death, simply by denying the very thing that could have minimized loss: a mask.

wearing a simple piece of cloth across your nose and mouth seems a small price to pay for a significant amount of safer passage through this time of pandemic. so it seems ludicrous and disgusting to go to the local grocery store and watch people arrogantly walk about with their masks firmly planted around their chins, just begging for someone to ask them to wear it properly. yes. the declining vigilance of the public.

the pied piper’s acolytes are everywhere and his followers are marching, goose-stepping toward what? the story of the pied piper relates that the followers – in the piper’s return to the village – were children and that those “children died of some natural causes such as disease or starvation and that the piper was a symbolic figure of death.” in easy metaphor, our very own piper, without evidence, has distilled the importance of masks to the point of dangerous disregard, pitting side against side, blather against facts, non-actions against actions, subjugating the very economy to disaster, costing jobs, homes, safety, the feeding of families, and has led this country to the brink of death.

is it his personal charm? i think not. the anger he has unleashed, the lack of moral compass, the lies, the rhetoric, the violence…his pipe-tooting seems limitless. instead of unity he chooses division. instead of health he chooses disease. instead of love he chooses hatred.

the pied piper, a self-described rat-catcher, piped to eradicate a poor town from an infestation of rats. ahhh. the metaphor continues. for, tucked into his own house-of-white, while tooting the ever-increasingly-ironic “draining of the swamp,” he and his minions have the best of the best pandemic tools and aids at their bidding. the 2000 people at the lawn rally bestowing accolades upon his every word and gesture have, likely, slightly fewer tools and aids. the millions of those watching fox news, tucked into living rooms across this country, have, likely, far fewer opportunities and far less resources to avoid or combat this coronavirus, this disease, this death.

but the one thing they could have? the one thing that is accessible to most anyone? the one thing that thousands of people sat in front of sewing machines making in the early part of this year, that are available most anywhere, from organizations or religious institutions or individual donors? the one thing that could have saved thousands of lives to date? the one thing that purportedly could still potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives?

masks.

please – vigilantly – wear a mask.

because the pied piper truly does not care if you live or die.

pied piper (noun): the hero of a german folk legend, popularized in the pied piper of hamelin (1842) by robert browning. a person who induces others to follow or imitate him or her, especially by means of false or extravagant promises.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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shift-key. [merely-a-thought monday]

shift key framed

summer is soon going to draw to a close.  it’s august 10 and with today’s feel-like at 96, it’s clearly not anytime too soon.  but soon enough.

this summer has been unlike any other.  in our deference to the pandemic we have limited ourselves to that which we believe shows regard to recommendations given so as not to be responsible for spreading this.  we’ve worn masks.  we’ve social distanced.  we’ve not eaten in restaurants or stood by barstools sipping wine in enclosed spaces.  we haven’t shopped in department stores or had people over in our home, and, differing from every other summer we have had together,  we haven’t traveled.  it has been unlike any other.

but that isn’t the case for everyone.  people have flocked to the beaches and water parks.  people have traveled to hot spots – on purpose, in the name of looking for a break.  people are eating in restaurants and are gathered at bars and at big backyard barbecues.  people are singing in indoor venues and are clustered on sandbars.  people have gone to little towns, vacationing and, with the it-won’t-happen-to-us mindset, placing the locale at risk, placing the locals and the health care system in that locale in a precarious way.  hundreds of thousands of people are headed to or are gathered in sturgis right now.  it’s their summer.  and, if you scroll through facebook, it’s not a heck of a lot different than their last summer.

i read a quote today that spoke to the sturgis crowds.  “there are people throughout america who have been locked up for months and months,” was the excuse for an influx into this town of 7000.  i have to disagree.  any instagram or facebook peek will reveal that people are not locked up; many people have lived summer just like they always live summer:  any way they want.

in the attention-deficit way of america, many people have simply moved on and their temporarily-outward-gaze has shift-key-shifted selfishly inward.  but we are still out here:  mask-wearers, social-distancers, stay-close-to-homers, quietly and not-so-quietly trying to mitigate this time. and we can see the others so we are disappointed, saddened and stressed and we are riding the long-limbo-wave of impossible decision-making.

the masses have spoken – at least in this country – and freedom (read: independence from the government mandating for the safety of all) rules.

but freedom isn’t free, as the old up with people song points out, “freedom isn’t free. you’ve got to pay the price, you’ve got to sacrifice, for your liberty.”

i suppose that our sacrifices count, little as that might be in the big picture.  as this pandemic continues to rage, as chaos continues to ensue, as relationships shatter over disease-disagreement, our not going to wine-knot matters, our crossing-the-road-to-the-other-sidewalk counts, our consistent mask-wearing-social-distancing makes a difference.  it just doesn’t feel that way.  the bigger picture looks bleak and my heart sinks looking ahead, fall and winter just over the we-have-so-many-unanswered-questions horizon.  whether they (in a countrywide sense) are exercising caution or not, our little part is significant.

the up with people song continues, “but for every man freedom’s the eternal quest.  you’re free to give humanity your very best.”

what is our very best?  individually?  collectively?

perhaps a nationwide shift-key would be of value.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“i like your mask.” [merely-a-thought monday]

i like your mask 2

 

i was trying to catch up my calendar – the dollar version – where i write things we’ve done, thoughts, ideas, hikes.  on new year’s day i usually take out the calendar and read the whole thing, a review of the year, so to speak.  post-broken-wrists, not being able to write with my right hand, i kept my calendar on the computer.  somewhere along the way i stopped jotting things down.

now, with pencil in hand, i am trying to catch up.  not only is that impossible, but it’s shocking to see the story-arc of the year.  time flies.  it occurred to me this morning that on new year’s day 2021 i will likely look back and see a year with a vast there-wasn’t-much-we-could-do theme.  it’s consistent.  the pandemic has altered the freedom of moving-at-will, the freedom of easily-gathering-together, the freedom of travel, of ranging around, and any real normal-summer adventures.  a time that, painfully, just isn’t the same as all other summers.  it doesn’t feel the same; it doesn’t look the same.  it doesn’t live the same way.  the impotent months, a time of self-sacrifice-for-the-whole, would seem like a common story for all.

only it’s not.

“i like your mask,” commented the cashier at the home improvement store.  things you never thought you would hear.  our masks are all handsewn; a variety of fabrics, after washing they hang on a hook on the refrigerator, ready.  her mask was solid black and so i, in we-wear-black-all-the-time predictability, actually liked hers.  “what am i doing?” i wondered.  we are comparing masks.  MASKS.  surely this will go down as a 2020 commonality for people.

only it won’t.

with windows open allowing in the moist rain-cooled air of the night, over coffee this morning we talked about common narratives.  it would seem that, of all years, of all times past and, hopefully, times to come, this year would have the most common narrative for all people.  parallel experiences, somewhat indistinguishable in the limitations of a global pandemic, a time of everyone-coming-together, a time of doing-the-right-thing, a time of protecting-each-other, a time of relinquishing selfishness and adopting consideration, even altruism, a time of caring.  to everything there is a season.  a season of commonality.

only that’s not the case.

instead, any perusal through social media will show you that summer is summer and americans are out and about.  according to AAA, nearly 700 million people will take roadtrips this summer.  they are vacationing.  photographs of smiling faces in parks, at beaches, on docks, in boats, by pools, at picnic tables, at parties, in backyards, in restaurants, around campfires – maskless.  the weighing of calculated risk, the weighing of safety.  hopefully, this will not yield drastic results as we each live our lives – the lack of forfeit a contributing factor to more sickness, more proliferation of virus, more death.

we can only hope.

so is it different?   is this summer any different for you than last?  or is it pretty much the same?  what mask are you wearing when you are out and about?  is it all black?  (if so, would you recommend it?  what company did you order it from?) is it fabric?  is it an n95?

or is it invisible?  instead, a mask of indifference, a mask of push-back, a mask of conspiracy theory, a mask of you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do, a mask of entitlement, a mask of deservedness, a mask of personal-freedom-infringement, a mask of determined independence in a world where actually-everyone-depends-on-the-symbiotic-sharing-and-movement-of-resources, where actually-everyone-desperately-relies-on-healthcare-workers-who-are-watching-people-scorn-that-which-might-help, where actually-everyone-depends-on-each-other-to-get-this-pandemic-under-control-so-that-some-stability-of-life-and-work-and-school-and-economic-security-and-good-health-might-resume.  is it a mask of apathy?

masks. we all wear them.  not just this summer.  people-masks are situational, circumstantial.  masks often depend on who we are with; the narratives we state often depend on who is near.  it’s human.  consistent inconsistency.

it makes me wonder.  in this very human-ness, in this time and any other, if, standing at the checkout at the store, all masks of truth were visible, all narratives open for critique, would the cashier say, “i like your mask”?

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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#maskenvy2020 [merely-a-thought monday]

i like your mask copy

i was trying to catch up my calendar – the dollar version – where i write things we’ve done, thoughts, ideas, hikes.  on new year’s day i usually take out the calendar and read the whole thing, a review of the year, so to speak.  post-broken-wrists, not being able to write with my right hand, i kept my calendar on the computer.  somewhere along the way i stopped jotting things down.

now, with pencil in hand, i am trying to catch up.  not only is that impossible, but it’s shocking to see the story-arc of the year.  time flies.  it occurred to me this morning that on new year’s day 2021 i will likely look back and see a year with a vast there-wasn’t-much-we-could-do theme.  it’s consistent.  the pandemic has altered the freedom of moving-at-will, the freedom of easily-gathering-together, the freedom of travel, of ranging around, and any real normal-summer adventures.  a time that, painfully, just isn’t the same as all other summers.  it doesn’t feel the same; it doesn’t look the same.  it doesn’t live the same way.  the impotent months, a time of self-sacrifice-for-the-whole, would seem like a common story for all.

only it’s not.

“i like your mask,” commented the cashier at the home improvement store.  things you never thought you would hear.  our masks are all handsewn; a variety of fabrics, after washing they hang on a hook on the refrigerator, ready.  her mask was solid black and so i, in we-wear-black-all-the-time predictability, actually liked hers.  “what am i doing?” i wondered.  we are comparing masks.  MASKS.  surely this will go down as a 2020 commonality for people.

only it won’t.

with windows open allowing in the moist rain-cooled air of the night, over coffee this morning we talked about common narratives.  it would seem that, of all years, of all times past and, hopefully, times to come, this year would have the most common narrative for all people.  parallel experiences, somewhat indistinguishable in the limitations of a global pandemic, a time of everyone-coming-together, a time of doing-the-right-thing, a time of protecting-each-other, a time of relinquishing selfishness and adopting consideration, even altruism, a time of caring.  to everything there is a season.  a season of commonality.

only that’s not the case.

instead, any perusal through social media will show you that summer is summer and americans are out and about.  according to AAA, nearly 700 million people will take roadtrips this summer.  they are vacationing.  photographs of smiling faces in parks, at beaches, on docks, in boats, by pools, at picnic tables, at parties, in backyards, in restaurants, around campfires – maskless.  the weighing of calculated risk, the weighing of safety.  hopefully, this will not yield drastic results as we each live our lives – the lack of forfeit a contributing factor to more sickness, more proliferation of virus, more death.

we can only hope.

so is it different?   is this summer any different for you than last?  or is it pretty much the same?  what mask are you wearing when you are out and about?  is it all black?  (if so, would you recommend it?  what company did you order it from?) is it fabric?  is it an n95?

or is it invisible?  instead, a mask of indifference, a mask of push-back, a mask of conspiracy theory, a mask of you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do, a mask of entitlement, a mask of deservedness, a mask of personal-freedom-infringement, a mask of determined independence in a world where actually-everyone-depends-on-the-symbiotic-sharing-and-movement-of-resources, where actually-everyone-desperately-relies-on-healthcare-workers-who-are-watching-people-scorn-that-which-might-help, where actually-everyone-depends-on-each-other-to-get-this-pandemic-under-control-so-that-some-stability-of-life-and-work-and-school-and-economic-security-and-good-health-might-resume.  is it a mask of apathy?

masks. we all wear them.  not just this summer.  people-masks are situational, circumstantial.  masks often depend on who we are with; the narratives we state often depend on who is near.  it’s human.  consistent inconsistency.

it makes me wonder.  in this very human-ness, in this time and any other, if, standing at the checkout at the store, all masks of truth were visible, all narratives open for critique, would the cashier say, “i like your mask”?

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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