As we reflect back to the eve of 2020, we had no rational basis to believe that 2020 would turn into the nightmare that it has for so many. Family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and those whose names are posted whom we did not know have made their final flight and slipped the surly bonds of Earth as they lost their gallant struggle against the unflinching foe which has made common misery a daily occurrence.
If we may borrow from old Greek Mythology, Thanatos, son of Nyx and Erebus, in conjunction with his sisters the Fates (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos) would visit humans whose time had expired on this planet traversing the cosmos. For the three sisters or the Moirai they oversaw the destinies of every man, woman and child from birth to death.
Zeus, the King of the ancient gods, could not alter their decision on death. It seems that gods have little say over the matter of death when the Fates have made their decision to terminate or snip the string of human life with their lustrous shears.
The skulking COVID-19 has made 2020 a year of unprecedented interruptions and delayed the art of living for many people. All the dreams, hopes, and plans on January 1 have been shoved into a holding pattern with a landing in sight; but in reality, it is only a mirage of this viral trickster.
Unlike Loki in Norse mythology whose pranks could be somewhat amusing in Asgard, there is nothing amusing about the mayhem of COVID-19 on Earth. Its maelstrom of suffering touches everyone.
There will be two time epochs. BC (Before Covid-19) and AC (After Covid-19) will become the new normal as people reflect on what was and on what is.
The song from Les Misérables, the musical, will take on an unnatural poignancy at home and work:
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken,
There’s a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables,
Now my friends are dead and gone.
Of course, a new normal may become more of the same, but one can hope things will change for the better. Change is part of the human genome.
Many have sheltered in place during this lockdown mode, fighting against this vortex of creeping insolence. When this unwelcome specter is gone, many want to get out there and enjoy the beauties of living free once again without the mandatory essential restrictions which were meant for survival.
Perhaps, the following words speak to the nomadic spirit which has always been that urging within us to look beyond the coastal fires and shadows on the cave walls, to wonder what lies near that second star to the right:
“For all its material advantages, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled. Even after 400 generations in villages and cities, we haven’t forgotten. the open road still softly calls, like a nearly forgotten song of childhood. We invest far-off places with a certain romance. This appeal, I suspect, has been meticulously crafted by natural selection as an essential element in our survival. Long summers, mild winters, rich harvests, plentiful game—none of them lasts forever. Your own life, or your band’s, or even your species’ might be owed to a restless few—drawn, by a craving they can hardly articulate or understand, to undiscovered lands and new worlds.
“Herman Melville, in Moby Dick, spoke for the wanderers in all epochs and meridians: ‘I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas….”
-Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
The human spirit, not only for Americans, but for everyone in our global village will prevail against this Vespa mandarinia of the coronavirus family. The beehives of humanity will endure.
“COVID-19 has challenged us like no other calamity, and the end seems a long way off. But we will get through it as a nation of Americans helping each other, dispelling feelings of hopelessness and fear. It will not be easy, and I don’t underestimate the seriousness of our present situation, but we will prevail. We must.” Dr. Douglas Zipes, Saturday Evening Post May and June 2020, page 72
G. D. Williams © 2020