It was two weeks ago when I watched a sunset turn the heavens into an ill magenta-sorbet over Lake Merritt. As people gathered along the eastern shore of the 150-year-old man-made jewel of a lagoon to snap shots on their phones, I had no idea it'd be the last gathering I attended before the great social distancing of 2020 started.
Since then, I've been on my couch, lost. I can't even tell you which way the sky is. So many questions: How can the government expect us to listen after lying to us for so long? How can they ask us to shelter in place without making testing available? What more can I do in my work as a journalist? Can you freeze rent nationwide? Why wasn't Jordan scrutinized for playing with the flu in the '97 finals? Why are people buying so much toilet paper? How do I protect a three-year-old from germs? Why am I here?
Amidst all this uncertainty there's one thing that's for damn sure: the rat race has paused, momentarily. At least for a significant portion of the population.
With healthcare workers, service providers and other essential employees patrolling the front lines in the war against the coronavirus, most of us are trying to do nothing, told to stay inside. The biggest request of us is that we rid our palms of any filth the world has brought upon us. Take your time and wash your hands.
A perfect opportunity to think about the purpose of life.
For me, it starts with a lil' bit of anxiety slipping into the red wine I drink at 3am. The witching hour is also when I clean the dishes, sweep the floors and simultaneously absorb the news from the day before.
So many reports stick with me: The saga of Patient 31—a close look at COVID-19 spread in South Korea. The nurses in Oakland who have to reuse their masks and other medical gear. The predictions of hundreds of thousands of deaths that might occur around the world. The preventative measures taken by places like Santa Rita County Jail, which recently released a couple hundred non-violent offenders. And the sobering truth that simply by their design, prisons will still be hit hard by the coronvirus' spread.
The other night, I took a break from checking the CDC's site to Google “Can you die from reading too much?”
And then I stepped away. It’s not fair to make myself sicker during this time. This is about preventing, and if possible, purging illnesses. I want to look back at this period and remember how I finally got my shit together, ya know? I don't know about y'all, but I've got some pains and problems that aren't big enough to stop me, but I feel 'em, daily. And I never really had the time to address 'em, until now.
Being an overachiever, because being black and broke made me feel inferior. Being an overly focused father, because I fear following my pop's path. Carrying inner misogyny, because my mindset was made in the USA. Being easily distracted, because I don't always believe in myself.
There's more, but those are the ones that come to mind.
How do I address 'em? Do the heavy lift: pick up the phone and have the hard conversations. Wield a pen and write. Hold the hand mirror and reflect. Clutch a cup of some tea, lift a lighter to some candles and turn up some tunes from Miles.