“Belong to your place”

Tonight, while washing the dishes after dinner, I realized that I have started to reframe my perspective, shifting from if I get sick, to when I get sick. A calm settled inside my mind as this thought arrived. My mind got clear and logical. All of the Times articles I’ve bookmarked on What to Do If — I may pull up and actually study. Maybe it was that video I watched, accidentally. Maybe I am coming to a conclusion. Maybe I’m softening into the scary truth.

This morning, a crow cawing loudly this morning, sitting on top of the building just behind ours. Now, one black cat curled up in my lap as I type, not annoying me. Rarities, both.

There is a settling thing happening. The seeds of a new routine. Two weeks or what is time? into this experience and I know what a Monday might could look like so I write into the small book I’ve pulled out for note-taking list-making and write:

Monday — therapy, 1:15pm zoom buddy, 9:30pm zoom, laundry

I didn’t get any further that that. One day is about all I can look ahead towards.

Today, I remember to check in with friends with upset stomachs, no smell or taste, little fevers that are feeling big. I jog with my bandana tied around my face, like I’m in a comedy and seeing someone I don’t want to run into, I turn around and run back the way I’ve come. Having forgotten my glove, I shop, treading carefully, conscious of which things I’ve touched and with which hand, the benefit of being a pediatric hospital clown. I know which pocket is the “dirty pocket” and which is the “clean.” I walk back the few blocks toward home, the sirens are singing.

I love you, New York.

When I cry it’s because I’m not ready to die yet. I’m not ready to watch all of the dying. And it’s starting. And I’m crying.

A Poem on Hope

by Wendell Berry

It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old,

For hope must not depend on feeling good
And there is the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight.
You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality
Of the future, which surely will surprise us,
…And hope is harder when it cannot come by prediction
Any more than by wishing. But stop dithering.
The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them?
Tell them at least what you say to yourself.

Because we have not made our lives to fit
Our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,
The streams polluted, the mountains overturned. Hope
Then to belong to your place by your own knowledge
Of what it is that no other place is, and by
Your caring for it as you care for no other place, this
Place that you belong to though it is not yours,
For it was from the beginning and will be to the end

Belong to your place by knowledge of the others who are
Your neighbors in it: the old man, sick and poor,
Who comes like a heron to fish in the creek,
And the fish in the creek, and the heron who manlike
Fishes for the fish in the creek, and the birds who sing
In the trees in the silence of the fisherman
And the heron, and the trees that keep the land
They stand upon as we too must keep it, or die.

This knowledge cannot be taken from you by power
Or by wealth. It will stop your ears to the powerful
when they ask for your faith, and to the wealthy
when they ask for your land and your work.
Answer with knowledge of the others who are here
And how to be here with them. By this knowledge
Make the sense you need to make. By it stand
In the dignity of good sense, whatever may follow.
Speak to your fellow humans as your place
Has taught you to speak, as it has spoken to you.
Speak its dialect as your old compatriots spoke it
Before they had heard a radio. Speak
Publicly what cannot be taught or learned in public.

Listen privately, silently to the voices that rise up
From the pages of books and from your own heart.
Be still and listen to the voices that belong
To the streambanks and the trees and the open fields.
There are songs and sayings that belong to this place,
By which it speaks for itself and no other.

Found your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground
Underfoot. Be it lighted by the light that falls
Freely upon it after the darkness of the nights
And the darkness of our ignorance and madness.
Let it be lighted also by the light that is within you,
Which is the light of imagination. By it you see
The likeness of people in other places to yourself
In your place. It lights invariably the need for care
Toward other people, other creatures, in other places
As you would ask them for care toward your place and you.

No place at last is better than the world. The world
Is no better than its places. Its places at last
Are no better than their people while their people
Continue in them. When the people make
Dark the light within them, the world darkens.

brooklyn, ny — theater maker/feels taker/educator/learner she/her/hers