Saturday, 4 April 2020

How are you reacting to the craziness?

Lane Dean, Jr., felt sun on one arm as he pictured in his mind an image of himself on a train, waving mechanically to something that got smaller and smaller as the train pulled away. 

This quote comes from David Foster Wallace's short story entitles 'Good People' which I've had the pleasure of discovering this week.

Let's come back to this wonderful quote in a bit as it made me think about the current Corona situation.

Stay with me.

Good People by David Foster Wallace is a re-working of Hemmingway's 1927 classic Hills Like White Elephants, a story in which two young adults discuss getting an abortion. Wallace's story shares many elements; namely a young couple and lots of talk about abortion.

What makes Good People different though is the majority of the story consists of internal dialogue in Lake Dean's head, whereas in Hemingway's story the drama unfolds via external dialogue only. Lake wrestles with his own conscience and perception of his girlfriend, Sheri, who is pregnant and confused. As they sit on a picnic bench contemplating aborting their unborn child, Sheri sighs. 

These are Lake's thoughts:

The whole thing felt balanced on a knife or wire; if he moved to put his arm up or touch her the whole thing could tip over. 

Sheri sits meditatively seemingly lost in the moment while Lake's head is torn apart with ambiguous thought running this way and that. He feels 'frozen' torn between what he perceives to be the right thing to do and what his racing mind is urging him to do, namely force Sheri to abort their child. 

He pretended it had no name. He pretended that not saying aloud what he knew to be right and true was... 

Lake's mind flitted from how life would be if they got married and have the kid, to how life would be if Sheri has the abortion.

Selfishly, Lake feels that his life will be less impacted should Sheri go ahead and have the operation, letting him off the hook. Once again, he would be a free man, a player, able to party and experience more of life. He doesn't want to be a father at his age. Fatherhood's for old people, people who are ready, and he is most definitely not ready.

This has to be one of most difficult decisions anyone has to make in their life, and especially if you are in your early twenties or late teens and not yet emotionally mature. One wrong move and you could spend the rest of your life thinking 'what if...?'

This leads me back to our initial quote:

Lane Dean, Jr., felt sun on one arm as he pictured in his mind an image of himself on a train, waving mechanically to something that got smaller and smaller as the train pulled away. 

The image Lake presents here is powerful: standing on the platform and waving goodbye to your biggest fear and glowing with excitement as it slowly disappears into the distance. What a feeling that would be especially if you were an young man not yet mature enough to rationalize the impact of your decision on not only your own head but that of Sheri's. 

This image made me think of the current situation the world finds itself in. Life is now very different than two months ago. It's like everything we trusted and knew to be true has been turned upside down and shaken violently - like Lake's world. Old patterns of thought and movement, ones that we valued and cherished and held close for so long, have evaporated in front of our faces. One minute life was good, the next minute we're staring down the barrel of a existential crisis. 

How do you feel? Do you feel like Lake watching your career, your plans, your friends, your portfolio gradually get further and further from your reach? How much long can this go on until we lose sight of all the things that made our life what it once was?

Most people, presently, feel just like Lake, torn between confusing, paralysing and dejecting thoughts. Round and round they go like a machine in a laundromat, endlessly and tirelessly spinning, spinning, spinning. 

It's a tricky one, isn't it? A Depression era decade of poverty, uncertainty, unemployment, anxiety and despair lies just ahead for many people, and there's little most can do about it. 

That said, I think we all, like Lake, have options. 

Lake could either persuade his girl to go through with the abortion, or he could take responsibility and raise his child. Likewise, we can either sit at home and allow of head to fry in our skull or we can balance ourselves and think.

If we do think, what are our options? 

What I'm doing is trying to take back some head space through meditation and not watching the news. This I have been doing now for the past two weeks, and it words for me. 

I refuse to watch images of bodies being loaded into cold storage units and armed security personal lining the streets. These are images I can do without and add no value to my life, and in fact increase my fear and anxiety. 

So, while trying to breathe, be calm and upbeat I'm trying to come up with new online revenue steams. There's money to be made online if you have the right ideas and execute properly. Of course, it's not going to be easy with millions of people trying the same gig, but who knows? Getting creative and giving your all is better than sitting watching Netflix all day don't know think? This a shit time for all, but why not use it to explore new avenues and try to get income from another source? We all have a skill so why mot try and monetize it when we need it most.

So, I refuse to let my head pickle like Lake in the story. I refuse to procrastinate and try and block out the obvious mess glaring up at me. This is not a time to fester in self-pity reminiscing about the good times. Shit happens and the times have changed. It's time to stay focused, calm and see where creativity and hard work can take you.


1 comment:

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