Since the middle of March, many of us have watched the people around us trying to grab hold of something that will make sense of the pandemic and the forced changes that have knocked them off their feet. I’ve always been able to shake things off. It takes a hell of a lot to cause me any level of stress and for me this whole pandemic thing has been no different; but I know a great number of folks who have really been struggling.
While I’ve been pretty vocal about the foolishness of thwarting the mask, I have managed to not let the isolation of the stay-at-home order and a two-month work furlough dampen my spirit and drive my every day activities. I barely turned on the television until June. I kept busy working outside on landscaping projects in my yard, I did some writing, I exercised, played with my dogs, I built furniture, and I read a crazy number of books. I even got out of bed at my usual time and kept my usual morning routine – not that my dogs would have let me do otherwise. I showered and changed clothes daily and I mostly ate healthy foods. And for the most part, I stayed home.
While others shared photo after photo and post upon post across social media platforms of how difficult their lives at home were increasingly becoming I quietly sat and watched. I tried to reason how they couldn’t pull themselves together when they knew what they were doing was not what they should or wanted to do for their own well-being. It made no sense to me, but I expected they would somehow figure it out on their own; some did, and others are still tilting their heads in confusion. Everyone has to process things their own way, right?
And then, as if a pandemic weren’t enough, the country exploded once again into the Black Lives Matter movement. Name after name of humans whose lives were taken at the hands of the would be “helpers” brought people out of their homes. People turned from Netflix to the national news. Social media became the call board for protest related activity. Americans quickly painted a picture for the rest of the world of a country divided into those who would feign support of folks while acting like hanging people of color from trees isn’t a big deal and people who would bravely rise up for humanity while recognizing that saving lives is at the heart of what feeds the greater good.
Much of the rest of the world shared the anger and took to the streets to lend their voices to the cause. Spreading the virus seemed a secondary concern when many broke quarantine. Outraged people have filled the sidewalks and streets around the world night after night, lifting their fists and placards to the sky to shout the unified message that “BLACK LIVES MATTER!”
The virus hasn’t gone away. We didn’t “flatten the curve” like we intended. The number of cases is climbing, and people are still dying. There are still people being killed by law enforcement officers and people on the streets daily screaming, “ENOUGH!” So where does that leave us as a society now?
Maybe this will help. I was listening to an interview on Apple Music the other day. Zane Lowe, a DJ from Australia, was entertaining us with his talk with The Chicks about their new album Gaslighter. For those who may not know, much of the album is personal to the band members’ lives – as artists often bend in their writing. But Lowe would have been remiss had he ignored the fact that The Chicks are not ones to shy away from weighty social and political subject matter. They are the conquerors of complicated conversations and clearly understand the power of using their music and its accompanying visual representation to do some pretty heavy lifting in their willingness to meet the moment.
Throughout the interview Lowe, Maines, Strayer, and Maguire shared personal coping mechanisms, humor, and challenges that the experiences of the past several months have put on their households. I imagine many of our own family and friends – especially those who thrive on human interaction – have been having similar conversations. In the discussion Lowe shared a recent talk he’d had with another musician that might lessen some of the ugliness of the past quarter year and render it a little easier for some to absorb.
He spoke about when he’d asked saxophonist Kamasi Washington to bare his thoughts on the current state of the world. Washington responded with what may be the most beautiful take on all of this. He simply said, “There’s going to be a great harvest.”
Wouldn’t that be incredible? Every COVID patient released from the hospital, every small business re-opened and thriving, each statue we tear down, all racist politicians voted out of office and silenced, and every fucking murderous police officer arrested and convicted – these are the seeds.
Would that we could continue to dig deep and plant these seeds of hope…we would, as Mr. Washington predicts, truly have a great harvest.
“There’s going to be a great harvest.” Kamasi Washington
This is March March by The Chicks