Snowshoeing in a Plague Year
People didn't march sobbing, they marched singing.
-Sharon Salzberg,"Real Change"
Dedicated to all who have lost loved ones to COVID in 2020.
I went snowshoeing for the first time in the Unison Sculpture Garden with my friend, Helene Bigley, a few days after the big storm. We'd been walking and talking once a week during the pandemic, all these months, regular and steady, a solace. Then we had the snow and the combination of sun and snow brought me back to my childhood ski trips. I needed to get out into Unison's fourteen magnificent acres, albeit on borrowed snowshoes. I loved it so much I know I'll get a pair of my own soon.
Unlike the smooth motion of cross country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing is more of a plodding experience, one oversized foot and pole at a time It seemed a metaphor for the year we've just experienced, how we moved through it and into it and, hopefully very soon, beyond it, one day, one week at a time. Early on, I decided that as a writer, it was my mandate to document the pandemic from my small corner of the world and to use my Authors Guild blog as a platform. "Virus Without Borders" has helped me to keep pace with unfolding events, and to process these events. As always, literature is my medicine.
And what have I learned as my blog book has reached forty-nine chapters? So many things: That I can make do with less. That solitude is an opportunity to self-reflect and reassess. That friendship, family and community are the mortar that holds us together. That technology is a friend when it is secure. That many are suffering more than I am suffering. That a pandemic in a war zone is more than a disaster, it is apocalyptic. That I will never stop caring about people beyond the borders of my nation-state and my life. That I love to teach as much as I love to write. That the distance between continents is miniscule compared to the distance between our beliefs and posited solutions. That art and artists, music and performance, must be cherished, encouraged and supported because the arts support and nurture us. That enjoying virtual events is a stopgap, but not a sustaining diet. That we need a more humane health care system and an equitable economy, reforms in policing, criminal justice, education and energy sources. That we have awakened to these necessary changes and cannot retreat to life as it was before the pandemic, or before the fascist regime in Washington threatened our very being. America has changed irrevocably, the world has changed, and so have we all.