The world ends not with a cheeseburger
or a candy cane
or a bang or a whimper
or a breeze or wave or quake
or a nudge from a rock
or a drop or a smash
or a scuffle or a swipe,
but with a girl in pink’s cough at the airport.
Day One: Friday, March 13, 2020
Today is Friday, March 13, 2020, and my, what a day for words.
In times of distress, I have often found solace in words. Words got me through my childhood (إِذ قالَ يوسُفُ لِأَبيهِ يا أَبَتِ), through early adolescence (wake up in the morning and I ask myself / Is life worth living should I blast myself?), through later adolescence (…vanity of vanities; all is vanity), through my early twenties (To be, or not to be, that is the question), through my late twenties (I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness), and through the countless crises of my days.
Writing and reading them, seeing and hearing them, words express the thoughts and feelings that I taste and smell, but cannot touch. Those jingling in the back of the throat, sizzling behind the nose, tickling the ear and siphoning the colon, cranking the knees and walloping in the pit of the gut. Words paint and sing the sirens of our souls.
“This day will live in infamy,” for example. It’s been a long time since we’ve needed those words. “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” is another good set. “. إِنَّ مَعَ العُسرِ يُسرًا” “Pale blue dot.” “All the world’s a stage.” Those too.
Words remind us that we have each other, if nothing else. That we are not alone. That we are not the first or the last. That this is all one coursing continuum of being with arcs and dips and bruises and bumps along the way, and we have only to ride the wave until its very end.
Time has stopped and Earth pauses to catch her breath. For a while, I’m going to sit down and write some words every day. They will help me work through these times that without a doubt have punched a dent into the trajectory of human life on this planet and will be the subject of study and speculation for centuries to come. There’s no point now in assessing a future or rekindling a past. So I will take time out of each day to settle into the hammock of the present and scribble out all the muddled chaos of my being.
For reasons I don’t quite understand, I feel compelled to bare my words to those who wish to see them. So if you want to ride this maniacal wave of mind and heart with me, then come along and I’ll take you wherever I am going. Mark, however, that I can’t make any promises as to where that might be. I propose no guarantees of optimism or pessimism, positivity or negativity, hope or despair, but only truth. “Beauty is truth,” said Keats, “truth beauty—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” Without thinking or dithering, I’m just going to hammer out what I see, think, and feel. I’m not sure if that’s much to offer you, Respected Reader, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment.
And if at any point these words bore or sting or deflate or disappoint in any way, then scoot them aside and carry on with your daily trudge. Above all, read write sing dance draw play love, but don’t despair.
“COVID-19” was composed at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport while awaiting Flight NK 380 to Detroit. Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The world ends… a bang or a whimper “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot.
إِذ قالَ … أَبَتِ “When Yusuf said to his father, ‘O Father…” The Quran 12:4. wake up in the morning… “Changes” by 2pac. vanity of vanities The Bible KJV Ecclesiastes 1:2. To be…to be “Hamlet” 3.1. I saw the best…madness “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. This day…infamy Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York. December 8, 1941. The only thing…itself Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address. March 4, 1933. …إِنَّ مَعَ العُسرِ “Indeed ease accompanies hardship.” The Quran 94:5. Pale blue dot “Pale Blue Dot” by Carl Sagan. All the world’s… “As You Like It” 2.8. Beauty is truth… “Ode to a Grecian Urn” by John Keats.
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