“I imagine your life in VT going along in much the same way as usual…Tim going to work, Deb going to the writing studio and plenty of hiking, etc., on the off hours,” reads Cousin Becky’s recent email.
What she imagines is, in fact, what is real.
Not Much Has Changed
As if Living in Place has been practice for a worldwide pandemic, my life has not changed very much these past eight months. Tim still drives eight miles to work; I still walk a hundred yards to the Word Shop. We cook, bake bread and garden, as ever; we hike when we can. These activities are integral to our rural life, to living locally, and to supporting our worldly work of doctoring (Tim) and writing (me).
Vermont shut down early, and for the most part, Vermonters have practiced social distancing. Vermont has low population density, and social distancing is a way of life in normal times; it’s not that hard to intensify social distance in this time of plague. And personally, closing down of so much commerce and entertainment has only made it easier for me to sit at my desk without experiencing FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. I’ve made great progress on Learning to Hunt, a narrative about learning to hunt deer, and now I’m preparing to hunt again.
In her email, Becky asks, “Are you still doing your blogs? I used to get them weekly straight to my email, but haven’t been for quite some time now.”
I have lapsed writing this blog. Part of that is due to sinking into writing Learning to Hunt, sustaining my train of thought from day to day without much interruption. But part is also dismay at what’s happening in the world: how the pandemic is worse for those whose lives are already hard – especially in the United States, where racial, social, and economic disparities have exposed the inequality in a country where we want to believe that all people are created equal and everyone has the same, fair chance.
The pandemic has made me so aware of my privilege, from my ability to weather the pandemic in relative safety, to knowledge that I am more likely to be protected by police than harmed by them, that I’m not sure how I can add to the conversations that are important now.
I’m also scared. What will happen to our freedoms if Trump is reelected? And how will he behave if he is defeated? Will Republicans continue to control the Senate, always changing the rules so they can win? If the Democrats take control, will they be able to agree among themselves to forge a path forward? Will there ever be a return to civility, compromise and consensus?
I don’t think I’m the only one with these worries, and maybe articulating them will benefit readers. Please, let me know. I invite civil commentary.