A World Away

Some days I live as a hologram of pure light, weightless life walking white sand trails of ancient, longleaf pine forests to sit at the river’s mouth where pirate ships once anchored.

That is my current hologram moment. I have as many as my mind’s eye can conjure but most days my meditative state is anything but light, without the weight of life and its constant questions, and that is how it should be, full of potential and exhausting. Sometimes, I just need to be a world away.

Nearing the end of my sixth decade I “no longer wander lonely as a cloud” with Wordsworth “when the world is too much with me” but rather, I look to video games and holograms. Never would I have imagined my 19th century romanticism–with all its possibilities–giving way to 2020, the year that may never end, but here I am.

Maybe the future is holograms. It has been said before. And it is attractive in a time of pandemic that is revealing every one of us for what we are not, beings of light. We are not burdened by compassion but by its lack. In the United States we are raw by our history of white people taking from people of color, century after century.

Will we finally own our history and tell it all by including everyone who was there so we can learn who we really are? There is no future if we do not own who we have been. The history of humanity is proof of that. History is not about statues being pulled down (or put up), renaming streets/bridges–most symbols have a use by date–slapping on new labels will not bring back the dead or undo the deed. Statues and streets are not history. They mark moments, mostly inaccurately, it seems.

How we live with each other is our history. It is what we pass on to the future, and it has been a heavy load for each generation. There is no reason to pass on a burden. Never has been. Every once in a while, we realize that and decide to do something about it. Once again, we have an opportunity to lighten the load for the future by embracing equality as what defines the social order. There is no justice without it.

I am of that 60s generation that changed so much and failed to do so much more. All I know is it takes generations to change who we are, and it’s worth it to stay the course.

Some days I live like a hologram, light and unfettered, as if I were the outlier branch of a bush, catching the first bit of a breeze–life as it arrives, a current breaking stillness–before it makes its way through every other branch and leaf.

You’d think we make time for such moments, but we are too busy living in the past or the future, ignoring what is possible in the moment we have. We lack the solidarity to wear a mask to keep each other safe. It is not compassion that is the American burden but our exceptional individualism, and it is proving to be a killer.

On Twitter, a woman told me that 28 minutes of sunshine would kill COVID-19. Months long quarantines are the worst thing for the body, she said, so she would be spending her time on the beach, building up her immunity naturally while the rest of us live or die.

I don’t mind wearing a mask and didn’t before I was introduced to the “buff” by my friends at Musa Musala. When I’m not using it as a mask, I wear it as a neck scarf, and in the winter I may wear one as a beanie. On days that I am a hologram sitting by the river, it is my pirate head scarf.

Change offers us a lot to explore when the landscape we knew is no more. We’re given a new life lens for new lands. Life is not as it was. This has been happening to humanity for tens of thousands of years but the world is smaller than ever now and the planet nearly exhausted by life.

I wear a mask because I hope for humanity–still. I may be even more determined than I was in the 60s, not to be in the forefront but to support those who are. This is the time for their ideas for it is their world. I know some of what they feel and why they fight. For me, most of the letting go of life has happened but its image remains, “super realistic” like the hologram, life through light.

7 thoughts on “A World Away

  1. I have great hope as well as great despair in this dark time. Change in ordinary times is gradual, duress creates inflection points making change, for good or bad, more likely. Normal holds steady for a while, usually long enough to lull us, but normal is only our agreed upon perception of something that is always in flux. Great post Karen.

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  2. Your blog is chock full of deeply thought provoking ideas. America’s “exceptional” individualism is a killer – literally true in this pandemic! And history – I love history! And it worries me that the younger generation knows almost nothing about it. But you really made think twice….. and I realize that I’m some ways, the young are liberated and unfettered by it, and that allows them to move forward and away from some of those toxic legacies of the past into a better future.
    I hope!

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    1. I find myself remembering when I protested for “Women’s Lib” and against George Wallace.I thought change happened now–in a blink–there are some immediate effects but cultural change means living our beliefs, no matter the situation (as I know you know and do). My friend, Matthew Wright, says it much better than I; please take a moment to read his thoughtful comment. Like you and me, he hopes as well. Thanks, Craig!

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  3. Thank you for another insightful post, Karen. ‘How we live with each other is our history’ – too true. It is, I think, general human inability to live equitably with each other around the world and in complex large societies, in so many ways and at so many levels, that leads to the current situation in which statues – the frozen incarnation of the way things were seen when the statue was erected – are being hurled down. It is merely symbolic, of course; a form of rage by people who rightly see problems in society today but who seize upon the way those problems were expressed in the past as a symbol for highlighting the issue now.

    There is, I think, a clear psychological aspect too: by destroying past symbols of what, today, we reject, we are symbolically also disposing of today’s problem. The difficulty is that simply throwing away the symbols of an unpalatable past – literally – will not fix the problems that need curing today. But it will leave us ignorant of how that past became our present, of the necessary lessons that would enable humanity to find a better way. The challenge of the past is not to ignore, but to understand it.

    As always, the human condition leaves humanity stumbling forwards, fighting with each other all the way, instead of striding confidently into a future where all humanity can genuinely help, support and care for one another together. Your point about the 1960s generation failing to accomplish more highlights the issue, to me: a generation who rejected the world built by their parents and grandparents, framed by the world wars and the regimentation of society around that, didn’t quite achieve their vision. It was bowdlerised, corporatised and melded back into wider society in the 1970s, then turned on its head by Reaganomics and Thatcherism.

    I hope you don’t mind the scale of this comment – I can feel a blog post coming along!

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, as always, Matthew. Of any length, your words are always welcome here. Looking forward to that blog post of yours!

      What is bothersome to me, as well, is the idea that disposing of symbols will correct the past because we will not “see” or revere the symbol anymore. As you say, all it will do is leave us ignorant of the past and so we are doomed to relive it, much as we are doing in the United States, on more than one level.The work we have to do will take generations, for unlike life change does not turn on a dime–it’s a force of nature–so if we don’t “live” our beliefs in everything we do, we will lose our way much as we did in the 80s and 90s.

      I see what you mean about another blog post coming along….🤔

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