A Public Diary During the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic ~ Day 13

I wonder if we’ll ever live in a true democracy? What we have now cannot really be called such a thing if we’re being honest with ourselves. Voting isn’t a human right, nor is it mandatory, something like 50–60% of the population has elected most of the presidents in this countries history, and that percentage has only included women and minority populations for less than a third of our countries lifespan. And of course, gerrymandering and voter suppression are real things, too. For these reasons, and quite a few more, it is strange to call ourselves a democracy when it comes right down to it.

We really live in a plutocracy. Don’t we? The wealthy are, and have been, the ruling class every step of this countries journey. Every once and a bit someone from a humble, lower class background makes their way through the bureaucratic grind and eventually becomes a high ranking politician. But they then find themselves in a system that supports and perpetuates capitalism, oligarchy, the almighty dollar, and profit over people. Even if they stay the course trying to fight the system from within, it is virtually a never ending sisyphean task. Why? Because these are the roots of our country. This is our baseline foundation. It needs tremendous systemic change at this point. Pretty much a full reboot is in order.

Anyways, here I find myself, sitting on the couch next to my wife and son, they are reading books, we are listening to “Feeling Good Today” by Snatam Kaur, a Kundalini practitioner and musician who made this very uplifting children’s album. It is nice to have the air filled with these good vibrations, and to have a wholesome reading session happening next to me. It’s grey outside, a misty rain has been falling this morning. My cold outdoor shower started the moment I walked out the door. I do love this daily practice of a cold shower to get the day started. We don’t really have a plan for the day, there will be two loaves of sourdough bread baked which is exciting. I’m gonna make a crockpot chili that can cook all day long, and that is about all I know that this day has when it comes to a plan.

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Coming back from a break from writing. I like spreading this out as the day unfolds. The first loaf of bread is out of the oven and looks pretty damn delicious, I think the second one is gonna turn out even better. The first doughy rising dome stuck to the cloth a little before entering the dutch oven but the second one came out clean. The first still looks like a loaf at the store, more or less, but a wee bit misshapen. And I suppose it could have rose a bit more, but I’m thinking it is gonna taste just fine n’ dandy.

But for real, how long do you think we’ll be navigating this quarantine and social distancing/isolation?

There are so many varying thoughts on this question and I am not feeling any sort of confidence that I can proclaim to have a good idea of what the duration will be either. With that noted, I’m mentally preparing to brace for anywhere from 6–18 months or more of pretty strict measures of keeping the 6 foot distance from most folks and imagining what that will mean when it comes to arts and entertainment, concerts, music festivals, sports, and all that stuff that we’ve taken for granted as a regular and normal part of our lives. It does not seem likely that we’ll get to that place this summer. As far as concerts and large or even medium size social gatherings goes. And this is all really getting ahead of myself in a way because we have not, from what I can see, come close to seeing the full spike of cases in the here and now. That is the real realness to be considering.

What is going to happen in the coming days as the exponential growth of COVID-19 cases accelerates? How is this going to alter our reality? It already has to a significant degree. I find myself among nearly half the population who is already experiencing weeks of isolation measures. The rest of the country will not be far behind. And then there is the difficult reality of knowing folks who are getting this virus and being one degree of separation from folks who have already died from it. That is where I’m at and it is unsettling to say the very least. We participated in our second Friday night of Zooming with friends and it had a decidedly somber current running underneath the whole thing.

Each passing day since the last has brought more news in about the spread of the virus and more than that, each and everyone of us is smack dab in the middle of adapting to our altered lives now that we’re stuck in our homes. Our friends down in LA just got word that they can no longer go to their favorite hiking spots, this is a big blow to them for the sake of exercise, but it does make sense. Most, if not all of them have really narrow trails that don’t allow for safe passage between people. There is no way to keep 6 feet of distance when passing one another and even if there are just 20 or so people out there at any time, you are guaranteed to cross each others paths at some point. This is our new reality. For how long is unclear. And as pondered above, not only is how long the question we’ve been wondering, but also, how is the spike in cases going to affect us in the coming days and weeks?

Man, I really want to go out into nature right now. Go forage for more spring sprouts of goodness. But that is not really okay to do, is it? The reality of our situation is that we need to practice physical social distancing and going out into nature, rationalizing that it is okay if we go to someplace that is maybe less popular or less known about is okay, that kind of thinking isn’t what we need right now. Why? Because I’m not the only one thinking that thought. I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there who are thinking the same kind of thoughts and finding a way to convince themselves that it is okay to go out and be in these places. I honestly have to work hard to convince myself not to make the same decision right now! Just got done talking about this with Rach and we went in loops about it. But that is a part of holding the line as that great article described. We have to hold the line right now. Make the tough decision and hunker down to the very best of our abilities. Practice the strictest measures we can for keeping our spaces clean from outside contaminants and if and when we go out for essentials, be super fucking diligent in not bringing anything but ourselves and those essentials, back into our homes.

What a doozy of a fucking situation we’ve got here. I have appreciated all the clever videos form friends I’m seeing inside their homes. That is a spot of sunshine in this dark and dismal storm. And all the solidarity and mutual aid efforts that are coming together in the midst of this all is fantastic. By necessity a lot of effort to help one another is coming out of this on the local and community level and that is great to see and be a part of. I can see that keeping a sense of optimism and positive mental picture of what is to come is important, if not crucial, at this stage of this great unfolding. But I’d be a lying ass fool to say that this is easy to consistently do.

I will say this though, I have loved being an herbalist, farmer, gardener, and advocate for homesteading and practicing self sufficiency. It has been a true pleasure to focus on ways to be more resilient on a familial level during all of this. I have numerous herbal elixirs and tons of plant medicine friends growing in the yard and throughout our neighborhood that I am so thankful for. I am going to be making some sauerkraut this afternoon and that is exciting, it’s been way too many years since I’ve done that. And now is a time where we can share knowledge about these things, teach and inspire others to learn how to grow foods, make medicines, ferment things, and take matters into our own hands. That is something good that is coming out of this that I am super grateful for.

I’ll conclude with that. I’m so thankful for all the teachers, mentors, and guides I’ve had who’ve helped me to learn these useful skills. I am so utterly appreciative of each and everyone of you and will do what I can to pass along these empowering practices. May we find inspiration in this shit storm that is passing over us. We may just be able to come out of this a better species after the dust settles…

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Joe Culhane

Joe Culhane

Writer, podcaster, international public speaker, Theater of the Oppressed actor, and lover of this precious intrinsically connected world we are all a part of.