Grateful is Boring
The world is in many stages of grief, anger, fright, and confusion. Let’s begin there. Oh, and we’re all, to varying degrees, in some sort of self or institutional lockdown. We each come to be in our own private Idaho’s of solitude through no fault of our own but none-the-less each of us must come to our own private reckonings with the hermetic existences we are now enduring.
It happened, for the majority of us, quite suddenly and without any huge, impactful, event. There were glimmers of a “new” virus out there, somewhere, in some far-off Asian province. We’ve had these before from other disparate places; Ebola, H1N1, Bird Flu each, if we thought beyond our morning lattes, certainly had the potential to kill multitudes of humans but again, “them”, the amorphous masses that really did not affect us or our daily routines. Much.
And then this virus, this Coronavirus; this CoVid19.
One day I’m picking up our friend at a nearby airport for a visit and the next day, literally the next day, we were suddenly sequestered together for the foreseeable future. It’s a good thing we were all very old friends who had traveled far and wide together over the decades and knew each other far better than most so it was really like a small family of three, on holiday…of sorts.
Except for the niggling of uncertainly that the daily news was feeding us if we listened. This then bred the full-blown fear that rapidly followed. Without warning the world “out there” was an apocalyptic morass of potential infection, suffering, and death. Really, overnight. And “out there” was outside our front door!
What this does to our individual psyches is a very personal yet somehow shared experience. This isolation idiocy grows in each of us and on each of us in very different but related ways. But mostly it is the constipated pipes of our freedom of movement highway (excuse the metaphor but really, how shitty are things anyway?) that affect the majority of us the most. No quick trips to the store, no drives to Five Guys for a burger without masks, gloves, trays for the car and counting how many customers are in the store before you enter. I met our neighbor across the street tipping a single used cup into his garbage bin. We locked eyes and he said, with no trace of irony in his terse voice, “If I don’t come out to the trash bin at least twice an hour I’ma kill him.” Him, being his husband 40 feet away in their house. I got it.
But here’s where it gets rough. Grateful.
It’s on Facebook a thousand time an hour:
“I’m grateful for the sunny day!”
“I’m grateful my family is healthy!”
“I’m grateful for my precious cat, Precious!”
Grateful is boring.
There I’ve said it. Bad me. I’d feel shame and self-loathing if there was anyone I’d be actually seeing face-to-face in the next whenever to even care! And besides, all wagers aside, I’ll wager that each and everyone else out there is of the same opinion.
Grateful is boring.
Our lives are boring. Period.
My life and home have never, and I mean N.E.V.E.R been so respectably clean, organized, and perfectly presentable. My mother would be thrilled! But my mother would not be allowed to come into my house to see this miracle of modern living. She’d be in quarantine as well if she hadn’t died decades before all this shit hit the fan. And she thought 9/11 was bad!
We did the hard shit first: we moved rocks, built walls, rearranged plants in the garden. I, alone, trimmed 185 feet of 16’ tall Oleander trees, both sides, and the top, down to 6 feet. Forty, count them FORTY, huge, green, bins of waste; I’m still feeding them out to the green waste guy who now has added me to his Stalag-like list of offenders for TOO much work getting done which, I know, seems very UN-Stalag-like in its rock-splitting historical context but none-the-less, is my new reality. It took me two weeks, 8-hours a day, to accomplish this one task. Oh, and I had just had a quadruple heart ablation the week this all began. The general consensus was if that didn’t kill me then either the CoVid would or a heart attack would, so what the hell…….get on with it.
And then the basement was cleaned and organized.
This actually was the beginning of the fright portion of the picture. This had never been accomplished before in living history (I’m assuming for anyone else out there, as well). I unpacked boxes from three moves and two decades ago. But there was no place to take the give-aways as our local thrift stores were….you guessed it….closed. We actually put some really hard-to-dump items like pool railings and air compressors on the curb with “$50 OBO” signs on them hoping they would look attractive enough for someone to steal them. Someone bought them! We shake our heads in wonder.
The real issue for me is that “Inspiration”, along with Elvis, has left the building.
Grateful is boring.
I wish I could fully absorb the depth of the First-World, White-Person, problems we are confronting, I do! I’m a privileged, white, talented, educated, individual but trust me, this shit is weird. And it’s weird for well-off and well-under alike. We really are all in this together. The pablum platitudes that are pumped out have a certain ring to them that in my bones I feel resonates the same with my core group of over-indulged retirees the same as it does for those inner city Detroit put-upons who are still unable to drink their WATER no less wonder what would happen if and when they contract this plague. For them, too:
Gratitude is boring. But what a world apart those two realities are.
As a writer and a photographer, I’m having a pesky “block”; a creative logjam that is preventing me from having the inspiration I need to pick up a pen or a camera and create something that soothes my soul and maybe captivates others.
This is such a shit problem when compared to food lines, ER meltdowns, ventilator goodbyes, and the myriad of other tortuous pathways humans all over the world are traversing. For them, gratitude is also boring but in a much more life or death sort of scenario. They literally having nothing to be grateful for. Nothing. They are bereft, seemingly forgotten, and without even hope which I posit is a prerequisite for gratitude.
No hope=no gratitude.
So for now, from whatever end of the polar-opposite spectrums we all come to this same, fraught, fearful place we find ourselves in as humans, let us at least try and dig as deeply as we can into the fabric of the lives we are living and at the very least, fight for a glimmer of hope. Then, clinging as hard as humans can to that, maybe we can get to;