In these final moments of the evening, I’m coming to this log tired and anxious and grateful and sad. It’s a jumble of emotions that feels like a never-ending roller coaster. I woke up to a police helicopter flying over my building; there was a fire set to three subway stations in my neighborhood. One was badly damaged, two were not. We lost a dedicated transit worker and several people were hurt in a city where we already have too many people dying and too many people hurt. The police suspect it to be arson.
It was sunny and warm today, a day that would have felt like a perfect spring day. The parks and streets would have been full of people. Laughter and smiles would have been everywhere. There would have been ice cream trucks and people eating outside at sidewalk cafes. Dogs would have been barking and playing fetch. We would have all reveled in the sunshine and in the fact that spring had finally sprung. Instead, we huddled inside and cheered for our healthcare workers from our apartment windows high above the streets. Alone. Together. Apart. Connected. Sad. Hopeful. Tears and smiles and every emotion in between. We’re all mixed up now and I don’t know when or how we’re going to make it right again. But I know we’re trying. So many people are trying and giving and supporting and donating.
I talked to friends and family and classmates today. I wrote. I walked my dog very far away from everyone else. I made my meals. I listened to music. I watched live cams of the deep blue sea. I listened to the news. There is some light, some progress, and that light shines because it is surrounded by so much darkness.
The number of sick people mounts. The death toll climbs. The additional hospital beds are built by brave military soldiers for brave healthcare workers being asked to serve as soldiers. The supplies are scarce, and therefore precious. They are the difference between living and dying for too many people. We sit while Washington fails us and then pats itself on the back for a job terribly done.
Every day, I give myself 10 minutes to unpack the box of my worst feelings, to imagine the worst of my fears. I take them out and look at them and toss something-like-a-prayer up to the ceiling asking for all of this to just be a terrible, terrible dream. And that something-like-a-prayer gets a simple 2-word reply fro m the abyss—”Not yet.”
I cry. I wipe away my tears. I blow my nose. I hug my dog. I put my very worst fears back in the box. I put the box back on the shelf. I go back to work—writing and creating and inventing and finding ways to be of use from where I am with art and science and business. They are the tools I have to use to be of use. And so, I use them.
It’s strange that the greatest act of love and compassion for our country and our community is to do absolutely nothing, to stay home. It feels unnatural. It feels wrong. We should be doing something. We should be taking action. We should be out in the world making it a better place. But the very best thing we can do is to stay home, stay right where we are, and do what we can from our own couches. All our productivity and hustle and ingenuity won’t save us now. What will save us is to sit and stay. I never thought I’d see this day. Never even imagined it would be possible, much less necessary.
Our Governor of New York offers us the facts and hope, which is exactly what we need in our city, our state, our country, and our world. He is the nation’s governor now, and I’m so proud he’s mine. He is a light. He is someone to look to for strength and courage and resilience, things we all need in hefty doses.
I spent a lot of time this week talking to people about how we will come through this, who we will be when it’s over, and what the price of getting through, scars and all, will cost us. We have to dare to talk about silver linings and opportunities and lessons learned. It’s all that keeps us going, and we must keep going. We are being forged right now, on the open flame. What will be left in the ash when the fire is finally tamped down by science, the only weapon we have in this war? I don’t yet. But I’m determined to find out.