Like most people, I get The Pandemic Blues from time to time. I had it really bad around the holidays. I was resisting the way things were. I wanted things to be 'normal.' Even though I know that the way things were before the pandemic were definitely NOT normal. And when I thought of what it was I really missed, I thought of eating in restaurants from time to time. And that really felt like a first world problem. I also missed live music. And seeing streets of the town alive. And I wanted to be certain that my retreats wouldn't be canceled. I wanted to go visit family and friends in Sweden. I was lamenting that friends couldn't to come and visit me here. I felt isolated and lonely. And sort of indignant about the situation. As if Covid-19 was personally offending me. This, of course, is just yet another proof of how self-absorbed I can be. Thinking that the world is revolving around me. And lamenting, every time something 'bad' happens: Why me?
I was running errands in town one really ugly January afternoon. The sky looked like steel wool and, the air was damp and cold and the wind hostile. The dampness snuck through all my layers and into my bones. The world outside seemed to perfectly mirror my inner landscape. And to make matters worse I had to visit Media Markt in order to find a cable.
Emerging from the store, a pitiful mess of self-loathing, I found myself in a ugly strip mall part of town. These kind of areas are now ubiquitous all over the world -- but each time I find myself in such a place I wonder: Who thought this was a good idea?
I was walking towards my car, which was parked about 500 meters away. But you were not meant to walk in a place like that, you were meant to drive and park as close as possible to any store where you want to consume.
A sprawl of parking lots, exhaust, advertising trying to convince you that you can buy yourself out of your misery and monstrosities masquerading as buildings. There was a long line of cars, all with their engines running, spewing out clouds of exhaust, waiting in line to get 'food' from the Burger King drive thru.
And then I realized; We deserve this! We deserve this pandemic.
We (as in Humanity) have brought the only home we have (the planet) to the brink of destruction. There are scientists that have been warning us about global warming since the fifties. But in the past five years the evidence has piled up. The choir of scientists urging us that the window of opportunity to make some REAL changes to how we live is rapidly closing. Most say that it's too late. Within the next 10-20 years we'll experience natural disasters of such a scope and frequency that large parts of the world will be uninhabitable. And that will cause more people to be forced to flee than ever before. And Europe might try to defend their borders, (stolen) wealth and privilege with weapons. This will cause unrest and even more people on the run.
A few days ago, I spoke with a friend on ZOOM. He was talking about Berlin in lockdown, how that made him painfully aware of what cities are for. He said: I meet people in different places and we fill ourselves with food, drink, items or culture.
How the hell did we get here? So disconnected from our bodies and each other?
Since the pandemic I've begun to follow two youtube channels, one is called Soft White Underbelly and one is called AML Films. Both are documenting people who are struggling with drug addiction, trauma, mental illness and homelessness in Los Angeles and in Philadelphia. It's really, really sad stuff. But I am very grateful for these film makers for the respectful way they are treating their subjects. My boyfriend watched one of the movies with me, and afterwards he said: This is so depressing. Why do you watch it?
I've asked myself that too. I think these stories are important. And in them I find further clues to just how broken our world feels right now.
But I also think there's great potential for change. We are very much having a collective experience right now.
And I think that more people than ever are interested in expanding their consciousness and training their minds, so that they can be a better force in the world.
Photo by Tasos Mansour via UNSPLASH