It’s important to stay positive, but I think it’s also OK to face up to when things objectively suck, too.
I’m no expert on T.S. Eliot (actually, I’m no expert at a surprising amount of things, though Eliot is the only relevant one here), but I feel safe in saying the man wrote a few good lines. So, in my White, male, privileged way, I’m gonna leave aside his casual (actually, knowing Eliot, more semi-formal) anti-Semitism, and steal one of his most famous opening lines as my blog title (he did, after all, tell us that great artists steal. So, thanks for saying that, T.S.).
Can we talk about April, 2020, for a second?
Now, bear in mind, my birthday is in April (April 6th, FYI. And I think a full calendar month is a completely acceptable range to give presents; there’s still time. But I digress…), and it’s the traditional start of baseball season, so I’m predisposed to liking this month. But I think most will agree it’s been one of the worst months on record for virtually everything. Economically, it may well be the worst month in American history. And by this point, many know of people who’ve lost loved ones or have battled mightily through this virus, or are battling it themselves. I know of several who’ve suffered from Covid-19, and tragically, lost a friend of mine, the esteemed actor Mark Blum, (whom I was lucky enough to have appear in a play of mine in 2018, and improve it through his talent and generosity) in late March. And although I looked at the start of the lockdown as chance to “get stuff done” and “self-improve,” my record has been spotty at best.
There’s no need for me to catalogue the countless egregious offenses of this April. Instead, I’m going to try to sift through the rubble of this disastrous past 30 days and find some things to feel hopeful about and gratitude for (this is not my forte as a rule; so bear with me).
On The Plus Side
I’m now in a play reading group on Zoom which will have its second reading tonight. The first one, Richard III, was terrific. Not only because of the play and the quality of the acting, but because it brought home to me how lucky I am to know people of such intelligence, wit, passion, and talent. Just to see their faces was a blessing. Tonight’s play, David Hare’s Stuff Happens, should be great. Great to hear, and to great to see my friends ply their trade.
On my birthday (once again, April 6th; belated gifts can sometimes show the most love, when you think about it), my dear friends threw my a Zoom birthday party. Friends I’ve known less than a year, friends I’ve known most of my life. So many friends who took the time out to spend some virtual time with me. I’ve been lucky all my life in terms of my friendships.
In the midst of a creative doldrums, a good friend urged me to write a “Zoom play,” like, let’s face it, half the writers in America are doing these days. But it was a task, and though I started with nothing, I now now have 17 pages of what may be something. At least it’s a new challenge.
May Will Be Better (I mean, It HAS To Be)
Here’s my silly, sappy thought about all of this. This experience of isolation is simply, in one sense, an exaggerated version of the lives we’ve (or at least I’ve) been living the last few years. More connected than ever to people on social media, feeling more lonely than I have have before (and that’s a high bar). I think, as I’ve written earlier, this will give me (us) a deeper appreciation of and dedication to actual, IRL interactions and relationships. College students today report TWICE the level of anxiety and depression as they did in 2009. Think about that. These are people who’ve grown up knowing virtually nothing but the virtual. We hav a chance to consciously repair this. I’ll try my meager part.
Even Feeling Hopeless Is a Feeling, And It Will Pass
Remember, this world we’re experiencing at this moment is fertile ground for depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. But it’s also a chance to stare those things in the face, and refuse to be conquered. As Arya Stark would say were she a therapist (not to give away the premise of my new HBO pitch), “Not today.” I’ve had days, yesterday for example, where the dread and hopelessness came thiiiis close (I’m holding my fingers a very small space apart) to capsizing me. But it didn’t. That’s the take away: it didn’t. I hope all of you keep sailing along, too, even through the choppy waters of April into a hopefully slightly saner May. And please, feel free to comment on the stuff that’s keeping you going!