The enchanting Emmylou Harris and the late Gram Parsons once beautifully sang, among other things, about what some may have hoped for in a certain dark hour.
While people today may not specifically wish for the vision and speed that the duo sang about in that particular tune in 1974, we are all hoping for something good in this dark time of the world.
I was on a lengthy walk through my neighborhood last week, one of probably a dozen or so that I’ve done since the stay at home order was given almost a month ago. Only on this warm, sunny April day, more people were out than usual.
What is ‘usual’ or ‘normal’ these days, anyway? What’s normal today is coincidentally abnormal by most standards, unless in some mythologized, dystopian world. It’s strangely becoming more normal to not see people out nearly as much; to not interact; to not engage.
Each person who was walking or jogging in the opposite direction as I that day all did the same thing. As we approached one another, wide berths were given so as not to close the six-foot distance gap. A small wave and a nod were the only acknowledgements we gave one another, but many words passed in that moment of wordlessness. No matter who or where you are, everyone is being affected by this pandemic to whatever extent. Wherein typical days past a nod may not even happen, it is now a gesture of empathy and good will.
Just about one month into the stay at home order at the time of this writing, little has changed in the way of the course that COVID-19 is running. The number of cases, and sadly, deaths, continue to climb with only marginal evidence of the curve starting to flatten. Only essential businesses – chiefly medical, health & wellness, grocery, and financial are operating and for that, the rest of us thank those workers endlessly – for they are keeping things going.
Schools have been closed and are completing the year via e-Learning and other virtual tools. Collegiate and professional sports have been suspended indefinitely with no set plan to resume. The start of football season in August is in jeopardy. Most spring and summer concert tours are being postponed until later in the summer at the earliest, with some experts predicting that there may be no live concerts until as far off as the fall of 2021.
That says nothing of the local, national and global economic implosion that is teetering on an unreliable precipice. Thousands of jobs have been eliminated (mine included), and small and medium-sized businesses now face a questionable future. These times are uncertain at best and portend imminent disaster at worst. But it’s not all doom and gloom; there’s good here.
We can wax romantic, poetic, theoretical or idealistic on this situation and speculate that maybe this is Mother Nature or the Universe’s way of telling us to slow the f**k down. Perhaps this is some harsh lesson the world needs to learn about doing things better and being better toward each other. It’s an interesting thought, and maybe something of that is true.
There is plenty of tangible goodness to be seen though, right now, if you just take a closer look.
While leaving the home is unofficially restricted to necessary trips only – food or banking for example – many people are taking the extra time to check in on their relatives, especially the elderly. Individuals (and businesses too), have begun utilizing virtual tools like FaceTime, Skype and Zoom like never before. A friend of mine just told me yesterday how she’s been having dinner with her family every Thursday over Zoom since this whole thing started, and that’s awesome. People are showing more concern for one another, their families, friends and neighbors, in ways they may never have, or just took for granted before. I have another friend whose benevolent pursuit was to up and drive 1,200 miles to help on a temp job doing health screenings for essential employees.
Is it unfortunate that it’s taken a pandemic to catalyze such things? Of course, but however they are happening, they are, and acts like these are noble and good.
Spend a minute on Facebook these days and you’ll likely see a huge amount of support, recommendations and positive stories about restaurants and specialty grocers in your community who have stayed open via carryout or delivery. Many places never offered these services before now. Local businesses are the heartbeat of every community and they need and deserve support now more than ever. Again, is it terrible that it’s taken something like a quarantine to drive this surge of support for the Mom & Pop joints in the neighborhood? Yes. But it’s happening nonetheless, and it’s great to see.
Spend another minute on Facebook and you’re bound to see music artists, whether they are ones you follow or not, producing live streams from their homes. These intimate, acoustic “concerts” with just one or two people are a great way to stay entertained and listen to the stories behind the music. Many of them include virtual tip jars for donations that directly support their road crews and team members who are currently out of work due to no touring. Just about all of them also take questions and requests from fans, so it’s a unique and interactive experience. These shows weren’t done nearly as often as they are now – and by that, I mean daily. In fact, I have one such live stream by Devon Allman playing right now as I write this. Music is always important, but right now it’s crucial.
What’s more, is that individuals all over the world are taking the time to tackle a myriad of things they either abandoned or otherwise hadn’t had the prior time to do, and I don’t just mean cleaning the garage or organizing the closets. Scroll through LinkedIn or Twitter and professionals in every industry are celebrating new accolades, certifications, and other professional developments taking place. People are working in different ways to improve.
In addition to the music and other professional realms, there is a massive amount of new personal endeavors being undertaken out there. People everywhere are creating a wealth of new content, learning music instruments, and producing new films, paintings, writings, photography and other art. Myself included – in the last few weeks I have earned two new professional certifications, launched several new writing projects, taken on additional advertising clients, and am reading new books, discovering new music and updating my home office. And yes, I cleaned the garage, too. I say all that not to gloat, but because it makes me feel connected in this time of isolation. It helps me realize that although apart, the world is using this uncertain time to seek out other ways to improve and create however possible. It’s a positive, exciting thing and that’s nice to be a part of.
There is good coming from this.
Where and when this scary situation ends, nobody knows. But there are things happening right now that not only keep the world’s wheels turning but will leave a lot of things to be explored and enjoyed on the backside.
Maybe we’ll all be a little better toward each other too.