I’ve never had so much time, or so little. Social distancing has eliminated a lot of typical time draws: commuting, dropping kids off at school, running errands, shopping. It would seem a good time for mental accounting, and yet the file in my head grows more cluttered. There’s a box full of old notebooks from undergrad that my packrat self has been loath to purge adorning the basement corner. The quiet nights would seem to invite this opportunity. But something in me searches the news of death and destruction online in an endlessly looping cycle, refreshing maniacally hoping for some, even minor, bits of good news, on really anything. In fact, it looks for some evidence that this is all some surreal dream, some wild fiction of the mind, a capricious extension of the paradox of virtual connectivity. But there’s something laughing about all the death and destruction and chaos, and I don’t know why.
This bewilderment fills up most of my unfilled time. In fact, I often seek to eliminate my free time with ‘urgent’ parental tasks like serving up pretzels or reading my son “Mighty Mighty Construction Site,” fleeing from time like it was the hippopotamus monster from his suddenly so vivid dreams. The truth is that I think digital technology has ruined me, my capacity for stillness. That is the true nightmare in this new world. The realization that there is truly no return to times of nothing. Instead, there is only the pivot to social media, endless scrolling on news feeds and comments sections and memes, and the interminable feeling that I should be doing something else.
And yet in the void of this hopeless abyss, I have sensed some cosmic comedy, something that smiles, as it does through all things. This feeling that despite all evidence to the contrary, this will get rolled over, ocean to the waves. All that is needed is time and distance.