What if there is no answer? No words we can say, no action we can take that heal or fix this horror?
Some of us are living the slow transformation of this mandatory isolation, navigating from collective inspiration and support through shared quotes, commitments, offerings, sometimes jokes, infinite conference calls, texts, and posts to something unknown, now changing into something else: the burden is suddenly heavier, we are starting to feel despair, to feel the deep pain of something that doesn’t look like it will have a certain end: the tunnel looks dark and the levels of uncertainty are high. What’s this? what comes after this?
If this looks already terrible, if this is already changing so many of our assumptions, beliefs and things we took for granted, what may come after this is already starting to look daunting.
But for others, the despair looks very different. As my doctor said “we will have first world problems, not third world ones“…: some have been sent to a truly certain sentence, if not a death sentence, something that looks as dreary: forced isolation may mean, for many women and children, that they are now on the hands of their domestic abuser, their predator has them trapped, and because his anxiety levels are higher, so are his abuses on those who have literarily nowhere to go. For some, it is physical, for others, it is more subtle, the trauma is still there. And for some, it is death.
Yet for others, the sentence means being even more isolated than before: no contact with the few things that kept them engaged and alive in a world that had already marked them as disposable: some desperately miss their sport team, their friends, their family, their girl or boyfriend, even their drugs (yes, that too) as they allowed their oppressive existence of being poor, oppressed, marginalized and bullied to have something close to connection.
And then there are the millions who fall between the cracks because the government support doesn’t reach them or is not enough: the many who lost not only their jobs and source of income but their only connection to society and wellbeing. They are now sitting at home, sometimes a crowded and unhealthy tiny room or a shack, with nowhere to go. Their jobs may have been unstable, or informal, or not categorized as jobs, but they were what kept them and their families alive.
Like a Kenyan friend told me two weeks ago: “here, we won’t die from the virus, we will die of hunger”.
And then we have the many who are just waiting for the death sentence fall on them: the elder, the chronically ill, the disabled…
What if there is no answer? What if there are no actions, no words?
Maybe the human species have been too greedy and too arrogant. We thought we were little gods, that we could have it all, save everyone, live forever…we invaded other species habitats, took their children, make ourselves comfortable in their homes, took their food, their medicine and all they were and make it “ours” without any limitations, any boundaries, anything that says “enough”. We decided who died and who lived, we decided that mutilations to animals and plants were OK…
Maybe the answer is in being humble, in accepting that we cannot save everyone, that Life has its own rules, even if they look harsh, even if they mean someone we love deeply has to die, maybe if it means we ourselves have to die. Maybe we cannot and should not live forever, maybe we need to rethink instead on how we live the lives we do have, and how we allow others to live theirs.
Maybe we need to rethink words like dignity and rights under a new light. Maybe Nature already has given us all the teachings we needed, and we rejected them because some of then were too tough to swallow or didn’t accommodate to our human expectations…
Two weeks ago, I had the honour of interviewing Joanna Macy. The interview didn’t see the light, but I treasure the conversation I had the privilege to have. Joanna will be 91 years old this May and had just published a new book (you can choose to browse inside). We talked about many things, but the one that struck me more was her sharing of exactly that: the reality of living without answers…that sometimes we don’t have words, or actions, or answers, and as hard that may be, that is in itself a huge lesson.
Maybe the answer is the one we create as we live, learn to trust, surrender and eventually, die.
~ Antonio Machado, Spanish poet