It has been more than two weeks since everything stopped. All of my activities and appointments were canceled, even my checkup at the doctor’s office. It has been a bumpy ride for sure. My emotions have been all over the place, and I am sure that’s true for everyone. I feel thankful that I have family and friends to help out when I need it. I am grateful for my health and my life. Watching the news makes, however, me feel anxious. I think that I am being bombarded with news reports, and it is time to take a step back. That I need to take a step back makes me question everything about myself, but most of all, it makes me question my identity. Who am I?
I went to journalism school so that I could have a good career as a arts reporter/film critic. Unfortunately, due to circumstances that were largely out of my control, my career basically tanked before it began.
Nevertheless, I did not give up. I worked at being a journalist in low-paying freelance jobs and, often, as a volunteer. And, along the way, I became a photojournalist as well. Despite the low pay and the transportion challenges that I have faced, I have put forth my best effort.
But I always wondered. Am I a real journalist or am I just someone who plays at it? Since it is obvious that I cannot support myself at it, how can I call journalism my career? And now, what little career I might have had is gone.
Should I mourn what might have been, but wasn’t? During this shutdown, I’ve had a lot of alone time. Way too much alone time for this extrovert. I think about all of the sad things and feel all of the feels that are part of loneliness. But then I think about all of the opportunities that a failed career has given me. I’ve had the chance to reinvent myself, over and over again. I’ve learned how to draw and paint and have given the visual artist in me the chance to shine. I’ve taken training to become a master gardener and a master naturalist.
I’ve learned a lot about plants and insects. And I’ve discovered how much I love plants and insects. I’ve learned about the best practices for planting trees. I’ve discovered exactly how much I love being outside and in nature.
So I can still go outside and take walks during this time of shutdown and pandemic. I am not trapped inside. Today, I went outside and walked up and down my street. And there, I saw that nature has its own rules. Unlike the human world, the natural world has not shut down. I saw green shoots growing straight and getting taller.
And I saw the smaller plants, the crocuses. They are soft and little and they provide the first vivid colors of spring. They are life. Beautiful exuberant life. Their very being celebrates the joy of being alive. They just are. They don’t need someone else to affirm that they really are crocuses.
Yes, my world has become much smaller as a result of the shutdown. It has made me question who I am. Am I a real journalist? What is a real journalist?
Is it a job and a career? Or is it a person who observes the world and shares the stories? A storyteller. An observer. Do I need someone else to affirm who I am? Or do I do that for myself? And so. Here I am. Telling stories. Sharing images. Being that kind of journalist.