I hope you might consider this: What happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open. What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped. Here it is. We’re in it.
What is about to be unleashed on American society will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again. It will come from brands, it will come from government, it will even come from each other, and it will come from the left and from the right. We will do anything, spend anything, believe anything, just so we can take away how horribly uncomfortable all of this feels.
From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud.
I hope we don’t ever go back to normal.
Before this pandemic launched all of us—unwillingly—out of our routines, millions of people were already suffering. From an economy that works only for the very few, from a healthcare industry that can bankrupt you for getting sick, from a housing crisis that leaves hundreds of thousands of people unsheltered.
I hope we don’t rush back to how life was before and keep lying to ourselves that those problems can’t be fixed. We’ve seen that our government and businesses can work harder to support us. We should use this unprecedented opportunity to hold them to that and change our sense of normal to something better.
I feel oddly normal for how weird things are in the world right now.
My life as a from-home worker hasn’t really changed much. I’m still working from my couch, still wearing my daily uniform of leggings and hoodies, still spending my free moments with my usual hobbies of cooking and reading, still taking care of my health with yoga and walks around the block.
I even think my anxiety levels have lowered. Most of the items on my list of Things I Should Be Doing have been erased for me. No mundane errands, no social events to stress about and cancel at the last minute, no family get-togethers that I’d really rather not attend.
I am worried about family and friends. I am worried about the huge numbers of people who will get sick and die. I am worried about everyone who works at grocery stores and restaurants and small businesses. I am worried about everyone who is facing dire financial circumstances. But it all feels so big and out of my control that it’s not worth spending the energy to actively worry about it, so instead, I go about my regular day.
I’m focused on the very simple things that I can do. Stay home. Check in with my friends and family. Support my favorite local businesses when I can. Take care of my own health and wellbeing.
I’m even a little hopeful that just maybe, the chaos of these moments will push us toward something better. We’re all experiencing how horrible a capitalist system is at dealing with this problem. And we’re seeing how we actually can have nice things like paid sick leave, work from home days, and universal basic income.
I truly hope we don’t go back to business as usual once this is all over. I’d much rather create a new normal.
The last two months have been a blur. Let me quickly summarize:
Top three things I read
How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. This book made me want to do LSD. And if I do, I’ll now feel totally validated that there is a real, science-backed reason to do so.
Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom. Smart, brutally honest, heartbreaking essays that will change your mind in some way or another.
The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. An 8-book fantasy series that I flew through in the span of a month. It’s exciting, romantic, and thoughtful. Exactly what I wanted from a series about magic, evil kings, and epic quests.
Top three things I watched
Aniara. A bleak, all the way human answer to what could go wrong in space travel. You won’t be able to stop thinking about it.
Into the Inferno. Werner Herzog makes a documentary about volcanos. It’s exactly what you want it to be.
Billy on the Street. It just brings me so much joy.
Top three things I listened to
(Aside from PUP, because we already talked about that).
Alaskalaska – The Dots. So groovy and not like anything else I’ve heard before.
Elbow – Giants of All Sizes. This album transports me away every time I listen to it.
Velvet Negroni – Neon Brown. Chill and moody jams. The best soundtrack for a night alone at home.
Things are very weird right now. I made a playlist about it when we first went into quarantine last month. Obviously, it’s still relevant.
I know lots of people are looking for soothing, relaxing music right now, but I think the opposite can be helpful too. Sometimes you just need to blast something loud and wild to channel how you’re really feeling and take the edge off. If that’s your thing, have a listen.
This time of year is hard. Winter has been going on for way too long and I’m desperate for springtime, sunshine, and relief from always feeling cold. All the fun holidays that revolve around eating and drinking and getting together with friends and family are over.
I need a pick-me-up, and the album Morbid Stuff by PUP is doing it for me. It’s got plenty of energy but none of it is lighthearted. It’s exactly the mood I need right now. I legitimately love every single song on this album, which has been very rare for me lately.