Thinking you'll find peace in these strange days seems like a fools errand no?
After all no matter your take on the science vs the media vs the truth, I think we all can acknowledge we’ve been bludgeoned with a few choice phrases, pretty relentlessly for seven months now.
I think my first "oh brother" moment came from a mattress commercial.
We're here for you, "in these challenging times," came the oft repeated line from my AM radio station back in early April. I laughed until I'd heard it a hundred times over the ensuing weeks. Then I just wanted to puke.
Are mattresses failing all of a sudden? Are they collapsing without warning or being stolen out from under us? What is behind this pandemic that we need hope and calm from Mancini Sleepworld?
Actually maybe there is something there. Sleep IS a big deal and people working from home are now admitting that it can feel less like 'working from home' and more 'like living at work.' So maybe I do need to know that my mattress store is there for me, just in case. Being able to sleep soundly usually means one is at peace with the day.
Or just over-Covided.
How short to have an impact
I'm not in a "work on this one for three weeks" mood so I'll keep this one short.
I've found an incredible amount of peace, yes even in these challenging times.
The juxtaposition can be frightening.
Bill, we'll call him Bill since I forgot his name, slowed down yesterday as I was putting the car cover back onto my old convertible. It's necessary when you live in the windiest town in Sonoma County.
"Glad to see you taking care of it."
I whipped around to see an older man with a Clifford Clavin sort of air about him in a PG&E work truck idling on my street. He could sense my silence, mostly by my lack of speaking.
"Uh, yesss.. I.." I stumbled. He looked vaguely familiar but my mental rolodex wasn't quite firing yet, being only on my first espresso of the day.
"You gave me a ride." Bill said.
"Over by the Post Office when I locked my keys in this work truck." He added.
"OHHHH... Yes yes yes" I backpedaled and quickly remembered that day a few months ago.
"You were gonna go on a big road trip or something.." Bill asked.
I gave him the short version of the 9,000 mile road trip, the 23 states, Yellowstone, and of course hitting the antelope in Marfa, TX. He relayed that he'd once hit a moose in Alaska late at night, he'd thought 'what are those people doing on the road this late,' of course it wasn't two people it was one mama moose and her cub. Actually I have no idea if they're called cubs. She'd dented his Toyota but unlike my antelope she shook it off and walked away. We laughed and said our pleasantries and he took off.
I had that feeling of goodwill that's been so lacking these past seven months - just one month less than my total tour of duty in my current residence - a granny unit behind a hipster bar that I've never been able to visit because of.. well you know. Goodwill that just comes from talking. Sharing not political opinions or gripes or societal concerns, just sharing life. Doing life. Enjoying that I helped him out and he remembered it. I beat myself up sometimes over not tipping every single time at the coffee shop, yet forgot that day when I spotted someone in need and gave him a ride.
I'd glossed over it and took off in search of antelopes.
The sad reality is that one of my oldest friends lives close by and I've talked to "Bill" more than my friend. The friend went full shelter-in-place early and buying groceries for his elderly neighbors which I understand and taking precautions and yada yada but it's still strange to think he lived in NYC for ten years and I visited twice. He's currently three blocks away and we haven't talked in person even once.
Reason number 68 that I don't believe our blanket lockdowns are good for anything - not for health, not for society, certainly not for community.
Having peace is great, but having peace before yet another move, and yes another one with an uncertain end, is amazing.
I have noticed a high level of peace - particularly during October in these three moments.
- I gave my 30 day notice to my landlord. I'd known the inevitable - unemployment benefits were ending, efforts to show my latest film 30 Bikes had run their course, who knows when CA will move onto different colored spots on the Twister board, and my only employment is for a courier service, with lots of business dealing with political candidates and ballot measures, sure to dry up with the election, and we all know when that is. Yet on October 1st when I told James the landlord the news, I didn't feel nervous. Nor afraid. Nor uneasy. I felt great. But as Boston would say it was.. yep much more. It was based in confidence. Confidence that I had already moved. Moved into finally being a real filmmaker. At least in my own eyes - and since I'm always the hardest to convince that's important. This peace about not knowing where my residence will be makes me think of a scale - and suddenly confidence and assuredness are weighing far heavier than doubt or fear. The scales are tipping. That's a great feeling.
- Speaking of films yes - I'm finally being asked to be writer/ director on my next film. Sure we might not actually start filming until next year, and there might even be another job needed between now and then but it's the right path. It's appreciating and noticing that I'm on that path. That I've BEEN on that right path and just spent so much time questioning the path. Then again I do love paths.
I tossed my stationery business in the dumpster.
You what? You tossed your ten-year business of hand-drawn maps and cards into the dumpster?
Yes. And it felt great.
After all who knows when retail will really come back? Esp. in color-coded California. And my maps are cool and all but it's tourist foot traffic that drives sales and browsing is "essential" - to borrow another oft-used label. But no one's doing curbside delivery to buy a couple postcards. Also now that I'm working on another film, and making more Homestead Bikes, something's gotta give. I've done this path for ten years and don't necessarily have regrets, except I suppose I had hoped that it would grow a bit more than it did.
But you know what? It's ok. I'm proud of what I created and if it's meant to be a source of income in the future it will come back. And maybe next time 'round I'll do what's been the hardest: I'll get someone else to run it.
Either way there's no point to question.
Questioning takes time.
It takes focus.
Focus away from what matters.
And what is it that matters?
Giving Bill a ride home when he locks his keys in his car matters. Running into Antelopes and living to tell about it matters.
Tubing down the San Marcos river and checking in on the cousins matters.
Offering your car up at the altar of great road trips matters, esp. when LA lockdown friends need a break.
Telling the story of your dad's wheelchair nature trail that burned down matters.
Feeling confident enough to accept getting paid to tell that story matters. It matters to the future Mrs. Olmsted, who is somewhere right now hoping to meet a confident man, husband, and maybe father. Not a doubter. Not a waffler.
A doer. A believer.
It's not having peace when things are sure and great and fine, it's having peace at exactly the opposite time.
Like 2020 for example.
In these challenging times.
When we'll get through it together.
When your actions can save lives.
Peace. It's more than... well ya know.