Life in these strange times: Understanding the incomprehensible

Today, the sun shone. Brightly. It was pure joy. I had been alone in the house for a few weeks, and, today, I got outside and walked. As I was walking, I thought about my imaginary journey that has taken me to a beautiful blue lake in Kazakhstan, called Big Lake Almaty. It is surrounded by mountains. Well, beautiful is an understatement. It is spectacular. Like how does such a place exist on earth that is this radiantly beautiful type of spectacular?

I will talk more about the incredible beauty of Kazakhstan in the next few days. Today, I’m focusing on the day’s blogging prompt, which is to write about something going on right now, something in the news. And these are not usual times. If they were usual times, I would be participating in a walk for a nuclear free future. It was scheduled for this month. But because of the pandemic, the walk was canceled. It is impossible to do social distancing when you are walking several hundred miles with a group.

I have found that walking long distances is hard on my feet. But there is nothing like walking from town to town and making new friends along the way. There is nothing like looking at architecture and at gardens in one town after the next. There is nothing like using the slowest method of transportation possible: your own feet. We all want to arrive at our destination quickly. But, when we do that, we miss out by not having the world at touching distance. 

The walk didn’t happen, and I felt sad. Maybe it will be rescheduled for some time in the future.  And I had to let it go. I had to let go of the idea of walking by the Finger Lakes and through the Mohawk Valley and along the Hudson Valley. There will be other walks in other places at other times.

This is the time when I need to explore my smaller world, not my larger one. It has also been a time when I needed to go inside of me to understand who I am and how I could survive this time of aloneness intact. And I had to accept that because I like being alive. It has also been a time of disbelief for me, however. Did I really turn on the news to see someone holding a picket sign with the words, “We demand haircuts”? I’d feel silly if I protested over a haircut (or lack thereof, as I look in the mirror and see how my hair grows like a weed). Oh and there is that comparison of social distancing to communism. How about “Don’t cancel my golf season”? Was that stuff even supposed to make sense?

Wouldn’t you rather live than play golf? I’m not a golfer but, if I were, I would definitely choose life over golf. There will always be another golf season… if you’re alive to enjoy it.

I saw pictures of those protests against social distancing on the news and in social media. They seemed a bit far fetched to me. But they have attracted a following of people who are bored at home. Bored enough to decide that the measures that have been put in place to save our lives are stealing our liberties from us. They claimed that a quarantine was the equivalent of “martial law.” Martial law is a military takeover of the government and pretty much everything else. No. Just no. That did not happen.

What has happened is that the federal government has shown that it is in disarray. It is falling apart in a fit of confusion and lack of preparation. It is falling apart from a lack of leadership. I am for sure not a fan of the president, but it is distressing to watch him crack under the pressure of a worldwide pandemic. I never imagined that I would see a president tell us to social distance and then egg on the people holding the picket signs complaining about a delayed haircut. I never imagined that I would see the president collapse at the worst possible time, during a national emergency, attacking the press, and blaming everyone but himself for the difficult position that he finds himself in.

This is the time for a president to be a leader, to reassure a terrified nation that the medical community and the scientific community are doing as much as possible. This is the time for a president to work with Congress to secure the funding for the immediate needs of a pandemic. This is the time for a president to put together a team to talk about long-range planning, so that when a future pandemic hits, we will have an infrastructure in place to deal with it. This is the time for the president to step aside and let the experts answer the questions.

None of this has not happened. Instead of leadership, unity, and long term planning, we get divisiveness, toxicity, and a mean spirited attitude that has affected everyone, regardless of political party. We have a problem creator, not a problem solver, in the White House.

I think about these problems and wonder how they came about. I understand that I don’t have the leverage needed to fix them. I am just one person. And, because I have been on this inward journey, I can recognize that I have become saturated with negativity and that I need to recharge and re-center myself.

And so, it is good to be outside, in nature. The trees will bloom, and the flowers will grow. The bees are out, pollinating the dandelions. They are where they are supposed to be. Nature’s reliablity is comforting in a time of chaos, confusion, and distress.

10 thoughts on “Life in these strange times: Understanding the incomprehensible”

  1. You are right about us having a problem creator, instead of a problem solver. I really admire the introspection you are doing. My mind feels scattered from stress. I will probably have to do my own soul searching after it's over, I guess.

  2. Holly Jahangiri

    I've been solving my problem by ignoring the fact that there are any out there in the big, wide world. I can't travel, but I can write fiction. I've always enjoyed collaborating, riffing off other writers – when our styles mesh and we're on a similar wavelength – and I've been doing that today. It's what's keeping me sane and happy.

    I can't fix our problem creators, not till November. Even then, we have so many delusional people following him as if he were a real leader, not a pretend leader – it's disheartening. I have no idea what the future holds, so I'm trying my best, for today, to enjoy the present.

  3. I couldn't have said this any better myself. Yes, we have a leader who is a problem creator, not a problem solver. He is also a complete narcissist and sociopath. I wanted to leave the country when he was elected, and in times like this, I wish I did. But don't feel helpless – we can vote him out in November.

  4. Thanks Alice for sharing this piece. Your inward journey validates the need we all have and the importance for us to be embraced, to be at one, with nature and the beauty of it. It is so easy to get sucked into that which is negative so much so that we cannot see the forest from the trees. Taking a walk outside we can see each tree one at a time. In The Light, Malachy

  5. I, personally, have little hope for our country. I've done some reading on the 1918 flu pandemic and some of what you are seeing now existed then, too (people refusing to wear masks, people claiming quarantines stepped on their liberties) but this time, we have such a political divide that we as a country seem paralyzed. And it isn't just our President. How could anyone even think for a minute that just because he talked about Lysol and bleach that just maybe, there was something valid about drinking them? At least some of them decided to call poison control to check, first! Meanwhile, Congress can't make up their mind about how to conduct business so business doesn't get conducted, while millions suffer out of work. We fear that many businesses won't come back and yet large companies grab at the bailouts meant for the small businesses. I hope you can get out and walk soon, Alice. Walking outside really lifts the spirits.

  6. Julie JordanScott

    Nature is a great reminder. This is how life is meant to be – this is the world, as we know it… not the nasty politics. I am looking forward to movement – but I want it done responsibly. I also have two college aged children who do not like nor do they do well in "virtual college" so… there's that, too. And the college administration doesn't seem to consider that!

    Anyway – very thoughtful post. Thank you.

  7. speak truth in love. We need nature. It is coming and reassuring. There is still snow but the flowers will bloom Thank ou.
    We need to recharge, re-center, and the natural world helps us to do that.

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