Slippin’ Into Darkness
Slipping into month three of “quarantine”, “self-isolation”, “stay-at-home madness”; whatever social nomenclature is the next, current, more descriptive (palatable to the masses?) turn of phrasing, I am struck by so many basic, human truths but primarily, just how differently all of us are wired.
The words “War” sang back in 1971 have never been truer though in a bizarre new twist of historic fate:
“I was slippin’ into darkness
When they took my friend away”
Few of us realized at the time that they recommended we begin separating ourselves from each other that we were embarking on a huge social experiment, one that will be written about in the ensuing years, ad nauseum, but one that does merit some introspection on each of our parts if only to allow us to open portals into our psyches that often lay unexamined, sometimes forever.
Who are we when we are alone?
What does “alone” mean; collectively as a culture and individually as a person?
“Slippin’ into darkness,
Take my mind beyond the dreams..”
I picked up our best friend at the airport on Sunday, March 15th for a quite normal, regular, quick visit. “Virus” was beginning to seep into the daily vernacular; reportage of global numbers but still primarily in other countries, other regions of our country and, in short, others. As we drove inland from the airport to the desert where my husband and I live, the wide-open skies, the windmills churning out power from the fresh, spring, air, the enormous backdrop of 10,000-foot peaks framing this remote scene, all belied the fact that the next morning all our worlds would be upended. Our “mind beyond the dreams” was now our waking world and we had no choice but to start facing facts.
We were headed for the inevitable lockdown that dropped like a net over us all within hours. We were The Three Amigos that would ride out this wave but with less hilarity than Steve Martin could muster. Our friend, whose husband flies for a major airline and was still in the skies, was non-plussed and worried. My husband and I, together for almost 30 years had a good foundational handle on togetherness but as we were to discover, enforced co-habitation is a parallel universe, just slightly off-kilter from a chosen life-mate. We are the lucky ones, the ones who have company in this isolation. But company, like fish, grows old after three days…or three weeks…and now….into three months.
But even the worst company (and we’ve recently had some of that as well) have a “use by” date that they come imprinted with. We generally know when their departure date is and steel ourselves to muddle through their ensuing, annoying, time with us.
And now, three months in we know more. Our friend eventually went home to his life and we are left alone-together to figure out how we will navigate the New Abnormal. A quote from Harold Brown of “War” about the writing of the song “Slippin’ Into Darkness”;
“This song is about trying not to slip off that other side, the deep end……Howard (Scott, War guitarist) was working on some lyrics and he had this concept, thinking of how one could slip into darkness. Your mind could just go on, and you just go off to the left – you have to be careful, you have to say, ‘Don’t go there.’ It’s like that wall between sane and insane. We all figure we’re sane, and once in a while we look past that wall, our head pops over and we look and we say, ‘Here’s Johnny.’ I always like that. You look over there and you see certain things, and some of us have been known to go over there and stay, and there’s some that pop their heads right back. Because that’s just right on that borderline of sane, insane, and really close to being a genius.”
Sane Insane Genius
These are our only choices right now and how we each, individually and collectively as a human culture, absorb these choices into our cores and manifest them into our immediate surroundings, will prove to be the measure of who we are as humans.
As the concept of a calendar recedes into the near distant past, what do we each do to fill time? How many of us are blessed with self-motivation and creativity to think outside the box (I mean this metaphorically but really, certain parts of our society really cannot think outside the “box” of what they hear on TV….box analogy complete)? And I don’t mean children. Far from it. I mean you and me and every other adult person of almost any age who now have been weaned to rely on our information coming to us in 24 hour cycles, fed out by sanitizingly coiffed news-readers whose personalities have become more sacrosanct than the facts which they purport to impart.
We are guided, held by the imaginary hand, and walked fervently into their versions of what we “should” know. We take it as fact, right or wrong, Right or Left, and we immediately react and re-post into whatever cyber-sphere we favor and we amplify their views which are really only their views of the facts as their editors and sponsors want us to see them.
It’s the single, only, variable that threads between Sane-Insane-Genius
We are not good at control, self or otherwise. Almost none of us has the right blend of introspection and altruism to maintain a good balance of control. But it is the critical, possibly the only, factor that will present us with the Yellow Brick Road to OZ.
Today a front-line ER physician, a CoVid-19 survivor, died by suicide. One week after returning to work after her own battle with the disease, she was overwhelmed by the scope and magnitude of the onslaught and out of that one critical factor we will all need….
The fervor to re-open society again, fomented by mostly right slanted news media, has tossed us a prime opportunity to exhibit some much-needed control. We all want to live a life that closely resembles the ones which were so rudely ripped away from us early this year, we do. But at what cost?
We have no vaccine, no treatments, and very, very, little hope because we have even less real knowledge of exactly what it is we are fighting. We do have an overabundance of one element:
And it is fear that will compromise our control and slip us through the darkness at warp speed, loop us around the genius we might have been able to muster if we had only had control, and drop us flatly into insane.
Sane, Insane, or Genius
Any and all require Control
Control the Fear and we might actually display at least momentary flashes of Genius.