At the Corner of Covid & Quarantine

Here at the corner of Covid and Quarantine, the city is still quiet, but we begin to feel the rumblings and stirrings of possibility - even of hope and future plans. I’d abandoned plans in favour of living in the moment, and didn’t dare project past each day, surprised when the week is done, and on Monday, same again. Focusing one day at a time, and through these days, keeping monastic hours: morning, noon, dinner, evening, with sometimes mid-night waking to think, stretch, meditate.

If I hadn’t started this newsletter back in August, I wouldn’t have been able to begin it now. The forces that are needed to accumulate the will to create something new still seem dormant to me right now. But I am fine to play within what already is going on, and I’ve come to rely on writing to you every Sunday.

Throughout the week I have ideas but they flow by mostly unmarked in unknown territories. There are great memes and commentaries that move from my screen through my mind, but seem not to stick around. It is all like lines of ants passing through the kitchen to get to whatever destination they are compelled to reach.

One stuck with me, though, when I read about the Turkish Kolonya custom, basically alcohol-based sanitizer with essential oils. I had some sprays I’d brought home from a Mexico City perfumery, so I looked them all up to be sure the oils wouldn’t be toxic to the dog, and then dug them out of the cupboard. In the kitchen, I sprayed a countertop. Too too too too much - so strong. Melissa! yikes. Windows open wide, all fans going. I’ll never do that again. I also tried a bit of vetiver in the bathroom. Again - the droplets were so strong I should have been wearing a mask. So much for experimentation.

This old collage of mine, “Let’s Rock”, just popped up on my screen.

I never really knew how much my sense of “me” is dependent on the world I live within. Even if I’m not a “community” person, I am part of the entire organism. I’m not stepping out just yet - watching for the signs, the government go-ahead, the daily permission from Dr. Bonnie Henry, our Provincial Health Officer, that I can be fully myself in the world again. And it will happen, just not quite yet.

Looking at photos of groups and crowds I see them differently now. Each person thought they were individual, unique. But now when I look - they are just a group - a group of kids in a class, a group outside at the park, a group of people who all happened to be in a restaurant at the same time.

And my heart broke remembering the moment in The Bicycle Thief when the boy gulps down the stolen milk straight from the bottle, like a grown infant. The milk = his mother, Italy post-war.

I can’t find the pattern yet in these layered impressions. I only know that they all belong in my constellation which is changing incrementally each day. Now the blossoms fill our streets with gentle colour, petals piling on sidewalks. New leaves bring a soft green glow as the sun sets. “Spring comes and the grass grows by itself,” the Zen poem says. And I can shift into the always-time, lose the layers of hours, days, weeks, and months. Watch the easy movement through the seasons to tell the days. The weeks leap from their calendar boxes, intertwine and dance. Some of the days are so bright they illuminate entire weeks. Others seem to sleep as they pass through my life.

For I am not passing the days or weeks or months any more: they are all passing through me, through my awareness, appreciation and involvement. I’m a sundial, a weather rock, a digital timer, a meteorological balloon, a seismograph. I am the measurer of all that. It is in me, not outside of me. Temperature and forecast. The forest fire threat index. The week and the weekend. The full moon and its reflection.

These help form my own personal DEW Line, a McLuhan awareness of distant early warning signals. That’s where I’ll be looking for the data to indicate when and how I’ll complete this cocoon phase we’re sharing, somehow together - each in our own little place.

Question And Answer And Stars by James K-M, 24″ x 24″, acrylic and stain on plywood, 2007

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