A Public Diary During the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic ~ Day 26

Humanity is experiencing an existential crisis.
We all will share a common cloak after this pandemic.
You and I will wear a garment of post traumatic stress disorder.

For how long?
To each their own…

Right now though, shock, stress, and grief carry us along.

Some on autopilot.
Some, deep in the darkness of drink.
Many providing essential services.
Others, courageously saving lives.
Others, ending their own.

This is a time of reckoning.
A collective initiation period.

Paradigms are not just shifting, they are being shaken furiously about.
What seemed to be normal, now puts into question what normal even meant.

We’ve taken for granted too much of our basic, precious, vital needs.
We’re shaping new foundational sentiments on what is deemed essential.

It’s so crucial to give gratitude and thanks
as the pandemonium of this pandemic swirls around us.

To no longer willfully neglect and discount the crucial requirements that sustain life.
And all those who provide these services and work to provide us with this sustenance.

And folks are dying in places they simply shouldn’t even be.
In slums.
In jails.
On the streets.
In makeshift hospitals.
Alone.

And of course,
this pandemic is impacting
marginalized and oppressed folks
worse than all others.

It breaks my heart into pieces.

How did we get here humanity?
With our destructive superiority complex.
Disconnected from the natural world.

Short sighted greed and corruption rule.
Compassion for all be damned seemed to be our ruling elites credo.

So what do we do?

How do we correct our course?

Who knows?

Our lives are all a part of a bizarre reality show right now.
Let us watch it, carefully, mindfully, closely.

And let us take action to change the storyline, too.

Business as usual cannot, must not go on.
This is our opportunity to narrate a new mythology.

Let us do this, together, while we are forced to be apart.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Here I am, sitting in the quiet of our house, it’s 8:48am now. I’ve been up for a couple hours, the morning routine in full swing. The cold shower is done. The hot cup of coffee consumed. I’ve read through the headlines of our global pandemic isolation situation. Filled my head with a number of articles already as well. Also had a nice, brief back and forth with my pops via text, too. The poem above just came out of nowhere. I guess I needed to exercise some other form of creative output to kick things off here in my 26th day in a row of posting during this pandemic.

I don’t know what it’s like around your neck of the woods, but here in Portland right now, there is a thick blanket of pollen on everything. EVERYTHING. It’s caked on every surface you can imagine. Coating all the things in a slightly yellowish hue that makes my eyes itch just looking at it. If you do not have allergies, you’re lucky. Mine have been mild during this seasonal dumping of pollens, so far. I have to give thanks to a daily blend of mushrooms I’ve been taking for the past several weeks which has helped to keep the allergies at bay. The Five Defenders is what the blend is called. Chaga, Maitake, Reishi, Turkey Tail, and Shiitake have been steadily in my system most of this time and have really helped me out. I actually did have a three day gap when I ran out and awaited the new order coming in, that was a handful of days ago and it was during that time that I could really feel the symptoms from the allergies coming on. I’m now back on track and the histamine reaction scene seems to be kept mostly at bay again and I truly am thankful. So far I haven’t taken any of the hard drugs, you know, like Claritin or shit like that.

Last night, we had a very nice second round of seder, a second evening meal of celebrating Passover. This time with a group of friends. Most were here in Portland, though one of the attending couples is in New Zealand at the moment. They got there just 12 hours before the borders were closed to all incoming travelers several weeks ago now. Their story is pretty amazing. I cannot recall if I reflected on that yet. New Zealand has there shit together and Jacinda Ardern, the badass Prime Minister has really shown a master class in how you handle a global pandemic within a country you help to lead. She has been an incredible leader since she took office and shows me, and many, hope for what a great leader can look like in our rapidly changing times. While I do not believe comparison to be a very healthy practice, it is difficult not to observe leaders like Trump, Modi, Bolsonaro, Duterte, and the like and just feel like those who live in the countries with these folks as their leaders got a really fucking bad deal.

This world. What a mess…

And speaking of a mess, what is going to happen as we try and clean this one up? Even if we get through this and get things out of the pandemonium of the pandemic, we’re going to have to do more than just re-arrange the furniture. But before that happens. A great and indeed massive correction period is going to have to take place.

For instance, I am not sure how many of you are directly, or indirectly experiencing the effects of the nation, and worldwide, rent strikes that are happening but that is just one of the many myriad ways the old systems are being stretched to their limits. Our friends have rented their house out, while traveling, their one and only house, to help supplement and pay for their travels. Their renters have definitively declared they will not be paying rent during this time, citing the Portland Rent Strike paperwork as to why they will not be doing so. And I have some great sympathy for those renters. I do. And, not surprisingly, I feel deeply for my friends who are now going to have to pay the rent of these three renters for the next several months and deal with what will likely be an eviction process at some point down the road. This is a tricky scenario and falls outside the realm of landlords (often slumlords)who own numerous properties, profiting off low-income and poor folk as both their primary means of income, and wealth accumulation strategy. To be sure, there are likely a majority of situations where renters are dealing with these landlords and real estate managers, in apartments and all sorts of rental scenarios. And I even agree with the rental strike in principle. Our systems suck and so many of the people in these situations have lost their jobs and are scraping by just to survive. I get it. Shit needs to change. This is one of the many ways our current paradigms are problematic. I just can’t help but feel for our friends who are on the other side of this particular equation.

What a world. What a mess…

Today is Friday, April 10th, the year 2020. As of this moment, it appears that we will be riding out this social distancing isolation situation for at least another three weeks but maybe, just maybe (or likely?), way longer than that. What is this going to do to our psychological self’s? How in sam hell are we going to cope with this as this continues on further and further into the unknown? How many of us are going to break and how many of us who break are going to be able to put ourselves back together again? And equally important, are the systems in place that allow for cities to function, for food to be brought into supermarkets, and general crucial infrastructure going to be able to maintain function as this continues on?

At this present space in time, things seem relatively fine. At least, from my vantage of quite significant privilege. I am in a lovely home. I am in a healthy relationship with my wife. Our child is happy as a clam to have us around 24/7. We still have the means to purchase food and have our basic needs met. We have a fucking sauna outside for jimmy crickets sake. We have, objectively, a great deal more than so many people in this world right now and that is not lost on me. But we as a society, as a civilization, are in the midst of an unknown challenge that ew are confronting in different ways, not only across continents and countries, but between states, cities, and even communities. There is clearly not a continuity or cohesiveness that is playing out in how this pandemic is being handled globally. Everyone has a different localized shit show they are watching unfold.

And so, here I am, sitting comfortably on a couch in our home, writing these words. Wondering what is to come. Being willing to be a part of the healing and re-imagining process. Doing my small part to reflect on this bizarre time in our collective storyline. Getting vulnerable in at least one way I can, by sharing these words with you.

There is plenty to be worked up about. There is a whole lot that rightfully so should put a bit of fear in our bones. And yet, this is an opportunity we have in front of all of our faces. We don’t have to look at it. We don’t have to confront it. Many quite frankly do not have the capacity to do so. But if you out there reading this have the privilege and wherewithal to be of service to humanity and our trajectory from this point forward, please, please, consider ways to take personal responsibility and accountability for your part in how we got to this point. The imbalance we have collectively created and perpetuated is real. It does not need to be this way. It absolutely should not be this way. Let us do what we can to shift this all, shake the fucking atrocities of our systems of oppression into the dustbins of our story. We have that opportunity right now.

I by no means have the answers. I am still filled with questions. I wander through my imagination and wonder what to do from here. Ideally, collectively, together we can share our thoughts and ideas, share in critical, compassionate dialogues on how to make things better moving forward. Do our very best to listen to others as well, especially the voices that have been systematically tamped down and not herd. To our black, indigenous, people of color communities, to the lesbian, gay, bi, queer, trans, and all walks of human life who have been marginalized and oppressed, including through our bullshit class consciousness, may all those from these groups, who make up the masses, be able to shine their light on these troubling times we find ourselves in and may we be able and willing to both listen, and act, together, while we are forced at this particular time to be apart. Yes. Now is the time to dream the dreams that few thought possible in the pre-pandemic world. Now is the time to believe we can achieve what is needed and so necessary moving forward. Now is the time for all good humans to come to the aid of our mythology.

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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.