This post addresses lofty stuff, but I ask that you hang in with me if you have the available bandwidth.
I woke thinking about my college thesis. I concentrated in gender studies at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges–basically about as 90s identity politics as you can get. My thesis was about the theory of praxis–in particular, the marriage of theory and action in Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed as it could be applied to Marge Piercy’s brilliant utopian/dystopian 1976 novel Woman on the Edge of Time.
Wildly on the edge of its own time, the book acknowledged the multiverse and envisioned a potential 2137 in which people lived in communal villages free from capitalism and the blistering restrictions of contemporary gender and racial coding as well as biological nuclear families. It seemed like a softball to receive departmental honors, if I’m going to be honest. But I made a fatal strategic error.
In the oral defense of my thesis, I was asked whether I endorsed the murderous measures that the time-traveling protagonist–a Puerto Rican woman living on the poverty level in her 1970s timeline–had taken in order to rise up against the oppressive mid-20th institutions that literally were caging her and her brethren. Of course, I said. There are times when violence is required–when the peaceful thing to do is dismantle your oppressors by any means necessary.
No prize for me–in retrospect it’s hilarious I thought a Quaker college would reward such a stance–but as I woke thinking about the robber barons committing mass genocide to line their pockets with more bucks and ensure their rule, I flashed fondly on the 22-year-old I was.
“It” of Wrinkle in Time (another crucial interdimensional travel book
There may indeed be a multiverse–as an intuitive I believe this more and more–but in every timeline I can see, I agree with that girl.
After all, who among us has not, in the last few weeks, wished what we never thought we could wish on another human being? Even vaguely alluding to such a thing breaks the law, and yet every moral law I heed has been broken every day of our reality TV dictator’s rule.
ASTRO PSA! ASTRO PSA! Full moon tonight. A super-powerful, super-pink, super-moon, no less. It may seem that even the heavens don’t have sway over the dreaded Covid-19. But astrology still offers guiding posts–grounding perspectives, much-needed clearings. Enter this full moon, which takes place in diplomatic, eminently social Libra. Ruled by Venus, this sign is all about navigating boundaries—literally! Now is the moment to refine our Covid Etiquette—social distancing behaviors that more gracefully honor the social contract. Ask yourself: How can I better honor the humanity of others while we’re wearing masks stripping us of human features? How can we more diplomatically ensure our six feet apart? How can we express our love, concern, grief, rage, and fear in a way that honors all of our big feelings?
Frankly, if you’ve been letting your inner misanthropist off the leash, you’re not alone. We are cooped up with our trauma during the season of Aries—the most zealous and impulsive sign of the zodiac. Given how little Aries tolerates restraints, it’s no wonder we’ve been extra salty. So even if you can’t go outside, let your inner wolf howl out the window! Punch that lunar pillow! Then put on your rosy glasses for this rosy moon, and set some intentions about how you may treat yourself and others with more grace. We are in the shit, yes, but we’re in it together. Let’s use it to fertilize something beautiful.
Friends, we are all struggling no matter where we are. But I’m having a hard time with tone-deafness.
For the people in less-afflicted areas, I’m glad for your nature communion. Sorry you’re tiring of TV offerings and snack options and that your trip was cancelled. Mildly amused by memes about how your hygiene and health routines are suffering. Even glad for those who are embracing this time as an opportunity for “radical self care.”* But speaking as a New Yorker I can’t walk a block without stumbling over a homespun sidewalk memorial for a neighbor who was just felled or an ambulance whisking someone else away.
So many people I know are sick, people I love and admire in my immediate world. It all hurts, even the deaths of the people you didn’t especially care for. And then of course there’s the terror of your personal welfare. The fear of the many unemployed. The fear of our deplorably unprotected essential workers. Most New Yorkers have no safe outdoor space whatsoever and for those of us who don’t have a second home or family we can run to, what is happening in real time is unfathomable. Because for many of us there is no other place.
Either we were raised here or this city welcomed us outcasts and it was here that we finally found a home. We loved that we were all crowded together–in it together–even when we complained, and now that has been ripped from us though we’re still all crowded in the same place. Only now it’s not “crowded.” It’s “caged.” And I’m relatively lucky as a New Yorker. I have enough food in my fridge, savings to get me through a few more months, framily support.
I am not saying anyone should feel guilty, it’s a useless emotion. I am saying we should be careful about what we put out there. Especially while so many of us are sick and dying and grieving and losing everything we thought shored us.
Don’t abstract this trauma. Don’t expect “good vibes only” when some of us legitimately feel a roaring black hole of loss and rage and fear. Don’t expect us to be available for business as usual while our entire worlds are tumbling down around our heads.
I send love and I feel yours too. But we are all going to have to take it up a notch in terms of how we compassionately and consciously hear and tell our stories–me included. A new etiquette is required–a new social contract for these no-contact times–and we’re just going to have to fumble our way through. Patience is the new praxis.