I’m lucky enough to follow Teju Cole on Facebook.
in these trying times, he’s a soft spoken harbor of calmness and reflexion.
Yesterday evening he simply asked:”How are you doing? What’s hardest? What’s helping?” and the outpouring of raw emotion was heart-wrenching. But to me its also much more a testament to resiliency and humanity than any self-congratulatory 8pm applause sessions.
Here’s my own reply:
Better than I thought we would. But we’re in an easy place: roof/jobs/relatively low maintenance kids and the French socio-political system is responding relatively sanely. Hardest is realizing a lot of things that should change WON’T change: the slow erosion of our welfare system, despite daily evidence of its usefulness, is still on the agenda; the self-congratulatory 8 pm applause sessions that serves as absolution for all the selfishness … What’s helping is the knowledge that my family is in a place now that it can survive this thing together. It probably would not have been the case a few years ago. I’m grateful every day. And frankly, the fact that people like you are fostering spaces like this comment thread is soothing – in a very stark, very harsh, very real way, but believing in our shared humanity is allowing ourselves to be fragile and flawed in front of each other. (Ps: and the Music! Of course)
It’s 6 in the morning. This thing that’s going on around the world is starting to mess with me in insidious ways.
Because I have it easy, I thought my only job was to stay at home, take care of my family, be strong, and go on working remotely.
But there’s a weariness that’s creeping in from reading about the train wreck that is the US, and that’s probably not going to stop, or the less dire but still worrying train wreck that is Europe. I’m already tired from the fight that’s going to happen AFTER all this. Because I can see the reflexes: the closing in, the xenophobia, the stupidity. And the voices calling for reason and maybe a bit of change in the way we do things are few and far between.
Because I have it easy, I feel I can’t give in to these feelings of dread and angst. After all, my trash collector, my baker all have it worse. They have to work outside, unprotected. The ladies I still see on the infrequent busses, whose job is probably to clean hospital rooms – the nurses and doctors in the emergency wards (and again, I’m in a region that’s not been hurt as hard as it could have) – these people are allowed to feel sorrow and anxiety. Me, maybe not so much. My job is secure for now, my wife’s job is secure. My kids don’t have issues at school.
But that’s maybe part of the problem: I have too much time on my hands, and it leaves me no choice but to look at the slowly collapsing world we’ve built for ourselves.