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March has been the longest month in my life, at least since I was maybe 12. I expect it’s been the same for you. It’s not often we can track each day with such sobering statistics. Mathematically, it’s like what my mom would call “the miracle of compound interest,” only not in a good way.
The current pandemic reminded me of the dark excitement I felt as a child during the polio epidemic in the early 1950s. In my small Wisconsin community, a massive float paraded up and down neighborhood streets. No waving beauty queens, but a 10-ft.-tall lady (or so it seemed to me) dressed as a Red Cross nurse, standing next to a larger-than-lifesize iron lung (which was already a large contraption), a child’s head emerging from one end. I also remember that the swimming pools were closed all summer. This is among my very earliest memories.
I know it made a deep impression on me, but more in the way of pageantry and maybe magic; I wasn’t old enough to know there weren’t really 10-ft.-tall nurses.
I’ve just now learned that those iron lungs are precursers to today’s much-in-demand ventilators. Three of the heavy behemoths are still in use in the country.
I fear mightily for certain individuals dear to me whose lives may be seriously compromised by the pandemic. On a day-to-day level, however, I have a very different experience. In fact, for years I used to joke about hoping to someday be under house arrest so I could dive into all my desirous but undone projects. While I believe I’m instrumental in creating my own reality, I didn’t mean to take the whole planet down with me. Forgive me.
It reminds me of another thing my mom used to say (funny how wise they get after they’re dead). “We were poor, but we didn’t know it because everyone else was poor, too.”
Those of us living alone might approach these days as a retreat. Or a time to incubate, gestate, metamorphosize, attend to the body, mind and spirit.
Those in a household? I regret that the first metaphor that came to mind is Anne Frank hiding in the Secret Annex for two years with her family in Amsterdam. I hope your horizon is broader, and that we all take time to enjoy this beautiful spring. I wish you all the grace it takes, May we emerge alive. And wiser.
— Greta Belanger deJong, editor and founder, CATALYST
Read the flip-through of the online April issue HERE