It’s 8:02am, the day of the week we call Saturday. Hey, it’s the weekend! For awhile here, the context of weekdays and weekends is gonna have much less significance for must of us, don’t ya think? It’s March 21st, 2020 and this pandemic, this plague, is ramping up and spreading like wildfire. For context, I wrote 4 days ago and shared a global tracker of those tested and confirmed to have the virus, it was about 190,000 infected. Today, this morning, it’s around 290,000. That is four days later. And that is just who has been tested mind you. Here in the good ol’ US of A, where our government looks like a bunch of jack-asses in how prepared we were and how we’re handling it all, have now started to say they can ramp up testing while local states are stating they only have enough tests to check those who are hospitalized or those most at risk. Both New York and Los Angeles had reports like this in the last 24 hours. So, we might not even be able to adequately know how many are infected and we certainly will not be able to trace and track the spread in any meaningful way. Cool, right?
Yesterday was a beautiful day, weather wise. The sun was shining and it got up to around 66 degrees Fahrenheit and hovered around a near ideal climate for being outside. Our neighbors on our block have a small community group that decided to have a social distancing cocktail hour to check in with each other and I went out and participated in it, my goodness was it strange. I only had a bubbly water but most of the others had wine, beer, or a cocktail of some sort. There were about a dozen of us, spread out from a neighbors house, approximately 6 feet apart from each other in either direction from the porch out to the sidewalk, attempting to have conversations collectively though ultimately, due to the distance between us, were only really able to have smaller chats between two or three at a time.
It was nice to connect and we did manage to have a few minutes where we were all engaged in a collective conversation and reflected on the bizarreness of the moment and whether even what we were doing was something we’d be able to do much longer, or for that matter, whether it was wise to do it in the first place. It was good to see everyone and check in though. Thankfully we do have a Facebook group where we can discuss things and stay engaged with each other and even stay in some ways better prepared for what is to come as supposed to just going this alone, household by household.
I was outside with the neighbors for maybe a half hour and then headed inside, right to the next social event taking place in our dining room. On the computer were five squares with the video feed from some friends of ours. Two were here in Portland, the others were down in LA. We were using Zoom video conferencing and ended up chatting, laughing, and wondering together what the fuck this was all going to look like down the road for a good hour or more. That was nice. It was helpful to have that social experience and we’re aiming to do it regularly now. That’s probably a good thing and I am grateful for the technology to be able to do this. I did end up imbibing a couple drinks last night and I have to tell ya, because it has been so few and far between, drinking spirits, I can’t say I’m a big fan of it at the moment. It feels nice, in a way, but it makes me also feel disconnected in a way I’m not very comfortable with. I also had a headache through the night and into this morning that is thankfully about gone at this point. The scale of pros versus cons of consuming alcohol at present have tipped towards the cons. I’d much rather ride this shit out sober. I used to smoke a ton of weed, for over a dozen years (okay more like 15+) I smoked pretty regularly. Now, for the past 4 or 5, I have rarely partaken and I’m not inclined to start back up any time soon, either. That just doesn’t seem like the best way to navigate through this particular leg of the journey.
And something else occurred yesterday that was a bit unsettling though thankfully, seems to have been a false alarm. My mother-in-law has been diligently checking her temperature every day and called yesterday evening saying she had a slight fever, 99.3 I believe it was. That got my wife into something of a panic and we were obviously very concerned. She is 84 years of age after all. But as mentioned, thankfully, a later call revealed that her temperature was back to normal. Whew…
Well, yesterday, in all its many waking hours, we had plenty of down time and leisure if you will. And productivity, too which is good. It also had a point while we were preparing dinner, when I saw that Bernie Sanders was hosting an online roundtable and lo and behold, it featured Nahko Bear as a musical guest. That was amazing to see, Nahko is an old friend of mine that I met on the Big Island of Hawai’i back in 2007. For years we tromped around together, mostly in Portland but sometimes in Hawai’i and it was fun to be a part of ‘making the movement move’ with him and Medicine for the People. At one point, in 2011, I was on the Big I and made some super low budget, as in I only had a point and shoot camera, music videos with him over the course of a week or so. We called them the Aloha Ke Akua Sessions. They’re still on YouTube and I’ll post one on here for fun for ya.
So, back to Bernie Sanders, addressing the nation about the coronavirus pandemic and having this roundtable with experts from different fields of work talk about the dire situation and then have him say, “And now, Nahko will play some music” was a trip and a half. Nahko and Medicine for the People did perform at one of his rallies back in 2016 though so it wasn’t the first time theses two had crossed paths. And as far as it goes, I do have to admit that Bernie Sanders is putting on a public master class on what leadership looks like in the face of a global crisis. His campaign stopped taking donations for his presidential campaign and instead is taking donations for pandemic relief. In 48 hours, his campaign was able to raise over 2 million dollars to help out. That is fucking awesome. He’s behaving like a president and leader right now and I heartily approve.
I did want to reflect for a moment on Hawai’i and Nahko and the chain of events that have unfolded since I made the decision to move to Hawai’i back in 2007. I moved to the Big Island to join up with a fellow I met at a global visionary summit that was held in Austin, Texas that I participated in. The place I was helping to open was outside of Kona and it was called The Green Source Center. The whole goal and idea of it was to create a hub for people to be supported and have any and all the resources they needed to build their businesses, strengthen their community connections, and build resilience in all ways possible. There was a kava and tea bar, a community room that anyone could use for hosting classes and events, that is in fact where I first met Nahko Bear. Back then, a year or more before Medicine for the People came to be, it was Nahko and Friends. Hosting jam sessions and having a good time together in the Green Source Center. We both were also living and working on different organic farms at the time and would meet up at those places as well.
That is also where I met and got to know Jim Channon, may he rest in peace, and learned about (and became a member of the First Earth Battalion/New Earth Army). You may have seen the movie “The Men Who Stare At Goats”, that was loosely based on Jim Channon’s life, Jeff Bridges character is a likeness of Jim and the movie had a lot of wild shit in it that really went down. He also had a hand in the development of Captain Planet and his catch phrase “Go Planet!” is what was at the center of that cartoon. His life is fascinating and what he stood for, what his visions for the future were, are things that are still so very relevant and important today. He was a social architect, trickster, visionary, and a man I am grateful to have known in this life.
Well, that was a fun spin down memory lane and during the night it lead me through other chapters of life as well, and circling back around to the present, it is truly amazing to see how everything is connected. This planet is massive in some ways, and so small in others. I think we are all remembering and realizing during this pandemic that we are indeed all in this together. So, we should maybe try and be as kind and compassionate as we can to one another during this time (and always!).
And just to touch back in on the pandemic that is unfolding ever more rapidly before our eyes. It is becoming so clear that here in the US we are not very prepared for what is to come. And while a lot of the measures that have been imposed are helpful, the authoritarian lean of some of it is something we most certainly want to keep our eyes on. Our collective safety and slowing down this pandemic is paramount, but moving quickly towards a police state and the potential for martial law is un-fucking-settling as fuck. I was reading just this morning something about the government trying to get authorization to track everyone’s smart phones, for securities sake of course. There is a perhaps necessary suspension of freedom of movement and actions being taken for the good of us all, but we must not let that lead to control by force that is driven by fear and authoritarian power.
We have an opportunity to build our solidarity with our local communities and strengthen our resilience to take care of ourselves without a central power calling all the shots. This may need to happen by necessity if this pandemic breaks down the fabric of our society. I do not enjoy considering these things but by all means I do see the importance of anticipating all sorts of ways that this reality is going to change in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Okay, that’s all I’ve got for now. I do want to end with some warm thoughts though. My wife is reading to our son right now, it is adorable. Last night, I read a couple chapters of Charlie and the Glass Elevator, and I have to say, that book is bonkers! Anyways, let us hold our loved ones close. Send love to those who we can’t see in the physical realm right now. Reach out to those living alone. Help support the homeless population. Help support the undocumented immigrant population. And see this as a very exciting opportunity to remake our storyline in a way that centers around equity, compassion, mutual aid/support, and kindness for and to all…