Has it occurred to you lately how freaking weird this world is? All the insane stuff going on each day brings you to a point where ultimately you just have to shake your head. It seems there are just no words. I find myself writing that frequently of late. “No words.” This is a very poor billboard for a writer. “Sure, I write books, but when it comes to the real world – I have no words.”
I would expect skepticism at best. “Sure, we’ll buy your book, writer with no words. NOT!“
But, man life is weird. You’ve got to give me that. I don’t want to make you feel anything but great about yourself, but I’d guess you might not have the words either. And that’s okay! Hell, there are so many things with the potential to freak you out.
But not all freak-outs are necessarily bad. Back in the 1960s those zany kids “the hippies” talked about it all the time like it was something to be sought after. So for me, at roughly the one-year anniversary of Covid changing the face of the planet, I had a totally groovy freak out, in the form of the night of Sunday, March 7, 2021.
I walked my dog Sunday, on a very chilly night and was rewarded with the clearest sky I’ve seen in a long time. (We love our clouds here in Central New York – or so we try to convince ourselves year after year). The constellation Orion was very prominent, and I’d just watched a space documentary about the likelihood of one of it’s constituent stars, Betelgeuse, with it’s asymmetrical bulge, going supernova, essentially at any moment, so you know I kept my eye on that sucker while we were out. What if I was the dude who saw it? Eventually the expanding gas and heavier elements would form a great nebula. Which will need a name. You could do worse than The Great Varengo Nebula. [Ed. Note: We assume the “Great” in that name refers to the size of the celestial body and not the person for who it was named.]
On the opposite side of the sky was the glowing red dot that is the planet Mars. And as I looked at it, while Miles did some in-depth sniffing, I couldn’t help but think there were Earth machines operating on that tiny spot, moving about even as I stood watching. Miles eventually concluded his sniff. He looked at me and then at the sky, no doubt assuming anything I was paying that much attention to must be delicious. He was not impressed, but I didn’t feel judged. He’s good that way.
There was also some weird stuff going on in the house as well. Sundays aren’t usually writing days, but I got up a few hours earlier than either my wife or Miles and sorted through an unwritten list of ideas. You need to stay with me here, okay? The fact that there was even one idea floating around in my head, (that’s “me gulliver” to you Anthony Burgess fans), well, that’s big. I have, for many years, been far more famous for the ideas I forget than I am for my published works, (by a tally of 3 people to 2 – and no that’s not the number reduced to a ratio – those numbers are raw baby. Yeah!)
But seriously I’ve had a lot of what felt like could potentially be very good ideas vanish between dropping Miles’s latest composition in the trash room and getting back home. So one is good. On Sunday there were three. Scribbled two of them down for later consideration and I dove right in to the third.
And on a day I had not expected to write at all I finished with exactly 7,300 words, which is a new record for one day. I have never compared my output to other writers, though I take note when they mention their own. First let me just say, some of y’all are monsters. Huge word counts every damn day. Need I say it? We are most definitely not worthy.
For me, however, it was a big day. And it is days such as that, in which I achieved far more than I’d expected – [Life Hack: Expect nothing and watch the pleasant surprises pile up. Follow me for more tips!] – that I find it is easy to become reflective.
The coronavirus pandemic has been, and remains a tragedy of epic proportions. If I never see its like again that will be fine. It will still be too soon. But in the midst of it people have continued to do great things. In fact many of the great things that happened in the last year happened because of the virus. Things on a grand scale, like the rapid development of the vaccines that are now allowing the very real notion of a world again open – for business, for pleasure, for the enrichment of the lives that come out of the pandemic on the winning side – to be talked about. And while it feels like some states may be pushing things a little quickly, we proceed with caution and with hope.
Hope, in the still looming, still ominous shadow of 2020, becomes the most prized commodity. So keep doing your great work in the face of the unimaginable. And maybe thank someone who helped make that possible.