Today I happened to be reading a commencement address given by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1996. Part of it seems particularly relevant for this time:
“The true and durable path into and through experience involves being true to the actual givens in your lives. True to your own solitude, true to your own secret knowledge. Because oddly enough, it is that intimate, deeply personal knowledge that links us most vitally and keeps us most reliably connected to one another. Calling a spade a spade is a bit reductive, but calling a wooden spoon a wooden spoon is the beginning of wisdom. And your will be sure to keep going in life on a far steadier keel and with more radiant individuality if you navigate by that principle.”
We are in the midst of a massive escalation of the virus after its being tamped down for a while. The last 14 days brought an 89% increase! This can be attributed to a few things, but most go back to not calling a wooden spoon a wooden spoon. Certain governors, like the governors of Arizona and Florida, have refused to acknowledge the spread of the virus to the point of suppressing numbers. Certain individuals (the president in particular) have refused to acknowledge the necessity of masks in stopping the spread of the virus. Certain groups have turned the virus into a political issue rather than accepting scientific evidence. They refuse to listen to the experts. Appropriate actions can only be taken when there is full acceptance of reality. Critical time is being wasted in denial.
Virginia happens to be doing fairly well. The rate of increase is about 5% right now. Most people are wearing masks.
Today is the 4th of July, but celebrations are cautious if at all. We can’t get together with my son because his girlfriend works in a hospital, although we may try to meet outside soon. My sister and brother visited my mother for the first time in months. She is living in a small memory-care group home. They had to sit out on the porch six feet away from her and wear masks. At first my mother didn’t recognize them because of the masks.
Even here, in a small town, I feel as if I have wakened to find myself in a frightening sci-fi flick. This week we will return to the farm, where life seems normal. My sister, who has a week furlough from work and has basically been in quarantine, will come down. We will walk and read and pick berries and put our feet in the Robinson River and pick berries. We will wear our masks to go to Food Lion and hurry out. We will avoid the crowds on the White Oak Canyon trail. This is the way it is and will be for some time: a big, fat wooden spoon.