Not too long ago glancing again via my journal for the 12 months, one thing type of unusual popped out: I haven’t talked about the COVID-19 pandemic all that a lot. Once I do, it’s clearly with an implied understanding of what’s been occurring. I don’t know who would possibly learn my journal sooner or later — in all probability nobody in any respect however me — however I attempt to be clear as to what I’m speaking about. In spite of everything, I’ve been often confused as to what I used to be speaking about on first look, having to ponder a bit earlier than I knew what I used to be getting at throughout some particular time.
Nonetheless, anybody studying the journal would discover a shift about 4 months in the past — most notably that I finished speaking a lot about locations I’ve been and began speaking much more about books I’ve learn or motion pictures I’ve watched. Generally, I’ve gone into exacting element a couple of explicit facet of them.
There are rising mentions of what’s occurring within the skies — descriptions of clouds and storms and stars. There’s a longish entry final week about my unsuccessful makes an attempt to get a look at Comet NEOWISE, the “new” comet that’s been seen — supposedly to the bare eye — since early July. Each time I’ve tried, the sky has been overcast sufficient to stop my seeing it clearly.
There are additionally more and more detailed descriptions of the wildlife in my yard. For instance, I wrote greater than a web page not lengthy again a couple of slug. Critically! A slug! In my protection, it was one large slug, actually noteworthy anytime, however I did sit and watch that slug for a very long time, lengthy sufficient that I’ve a fairly good thought of how a lot floor an enormous slug can cowl in 1 / 4 hour. I even watched it eat a leaf, which was completely mesmerizing. Then I spent one other quarter hour on the web making an attempt to determine the precise species.
So, there are many descriptions of “lengthy views” within the skies and “shut views” on the bottom. What’s actually missing is a “center view” — these occasions occurring round me, not above or beneath me.
To date, for instance, I’ve discovered no point out in my journal in regards to the latest development of toppling statues throughout the nation. I’ve learn loads in regards to the topic these days, however extra about statue-toppling prior to now relatively than the current. The toppling of statues just isn’t a latest factor; it’s occurred all through a lot of the historical past of Western civilization. Many instances, the apply entails social disruption, just like the toppling of the statue of Venus in Siena, Italy in 1357, only a few years after the bubonic plague had killed a big proportion of town’s inhabitants. The odd factor is that I hadn’t got down to learn in regards to the destruction of statues prior to now. The topic has been a part of a guide I’m studying on the historical past of Christianity.
And that’s the factor, I feel. It’s not a lot that I’m not journaling about latest occasions in America — the “center view” — as I’m journaling about lengthy views and shut views that I’ve by no means earlier than seen in such element. In spite of everything, the pandemic and the whole lot that has occurred throughout it has refocused our consideration in methods we might by no means have anticipated, even only a 12 months in the past. In spite of everything, to make use of a small and handy instance, Comet NEOWISE was found on March 27, 2020. For all its prominence within the “astronomy media” proper now, we merely didn’t understand it existed earlier than then. That’s a small factor, however who might have predicted any of the occasions of 2020 in July of 2019?
That has caught my consideration. I’m amazed at how a lot I’m studying books and watching motion pictures when it comes to the occasions of now relatively than when it comes to the instances they have been produced. I’ve been on some bizarre “guide kicks” these days — for instance, an curiosity in presidential biographies I’ve by no means had — and I’m studying when it comes to the politics of 2020. The previous motion pictures I’ve watched these days make me cringe that they’re not “social distancing.”
This shift in journal topics additionally examples one thing I’ve lengthy recognized: A behavior is straightforward to fall into and troublesome to climb out of. More often than not, we’re not even conscious that we’ve fallen right into a “behavior gap.” Desperately, I suppose, I’m making an attempt to not fall into the behavior gap of despair. With a lot tragedy within the center view of issues, I’ve intuitively targeted on the lengthy views and shut views to keep away from it. I simply didn’t notice what I used to be doing.
That explains my guide kicks (like classics of Japanese literature) and film kicks (like watching each the unique 1954 model of “Sabrina” with Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn and the 1995 remake with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond back-to-back one Saturday afternoon).
And if studying historical past has taught me something, it’s taught me two issues: One, just about the whole lot that’s occurring has already occurred in a technique or one other; and two, people will endure.
It helps me to endure by seeing the center view set alongside the lengthy views and shut views, to achieve perspective in tragic and unsettling instances.
David Murdock is an English teacher at Gadsden State Neighborhood School. He might be contacted at email@example.com. The opinions mirrored are his personal.