I find that meaningfulness slips away, in this strange and timeless time.
It is not just that every day is Thursday—nose still to the grindstone but you’re flagging, looking forward to some future easing of the tension. It is more than that.
It is the abrupt unmooring from all of the things that anchor us to the continuum.
At the beginning of the initial lockdown period at the end of March, I turned off my alarm clock. I figured, why?
These pandemic days have their own flow. I float from duty to duty. Responsibility to responsibility. To the child. To my home. To the dog. To my work. To my body and mind, if I still can drum up some oomph.
I believed, at the beginning, that I would have so. much. time. To be creative. To engage in something new. To do something different.
But I find that much of that extra time is spent in a sort of uneasy repose.
There are regularities, to be sure. Every morning, there is coffee with the New York Times crossword (270 solved in a row, as of this morning) and word puzzles. There is the feeding of the dog and child. There is a single record, the first side spent in general straightening, the second spent watering plants (Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ this morning).
(These things are necessary. The only real routine I can commit to, for now.)
Then the workday begins.
It sounds as though that’s a late start, but even without the alarm clock, I never sleep later than 6, so I am almost always working by 9, which is also when school begins. Band is first.
The flute warmup sounds like morning.
The workday is far less straightforward. I don’t try to cram it all into an 8-hour (or less) time slot in order to finish and get home. I work until I lose focus, and then I do something else. Walk the dog. Bake cookies. Hang some laundry up to dry. And then I work some more. And maybe nap. And work. And cook.
(No doom scrolling. No doom scrolling. No doom scrolling.)
There has been a lot of doom scrolling.
There also has been a lot of sleep, at all times of the day. And often I am asleep well before 10 o’clock. More than often.
Beyond the formless days, there are so few Events to mark the past eight or more months. So very few interactions to work their way around my head. So few meaningful and useful provocations. So little stands out, and the few happenings that do adhere seem almost a dream, compared to the nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day grind.
The timeless time.
Meaningfulness slips away, and I grasp for every sense of Something More that I can get.
Yesterday morning, I opened the front door, and a red-breasted nuthatch flew so close I could feel the air it stirred. It alit on a branch of the gnarled lilac that soldiers on by the front porch.
I think I said, “Oh my!”
And then, “Well, hello.”
We contemplated each other for a minute, then simultaneously grew nervous, and it flew away.
About 20 minutes later, as I was walking the dog around the Marsh, two deer marched right out of the firebreak and came straight at me, as though they knew I would not hurt them. As though I were one of them. Unwary. The dog, a good companion for Outside, stayed very still and quiet, as always. Watchful, but unobtrusive.
They startled to something behind that I could not see, and passed us closely. Again, so close I could feel the air they stirred. The hairs stood up on my arms.
These are the Events now. These minute interactions with the immediate neighborhood, and most of it not human.
This is what to grasp and hold onto like driftwood amid these waves of timeless time.
Until there is some shore, or the waves pull us below, this will have to do.