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All Things New

I am writing to you from the future. After a shared history of extraordinary events, I cannot tell you when this all ends because, in truth, it does not end. What follows this extraordinary event is simply a progression to whatever comes next. This should come as no surprise. That is the way of time. No hard stop. No return to life exactly as it once was. Time keeps moving and continues to advance no matter how often you stop to rest, and you should stop to rest. Make no mistake, rest is necessary. Even so, I can tell you how it unfolds in time, in phases, like the moon, in stanzas, like a poem, in verses, like scripture.

Phase One: Behold

When you look back on this you will wish you’d paid better attention at the start. Paying attention is hard at first with so many changes coming so quickly, each of us standing at the center of a solitary kaleidoscope of confinement.

It was a burning in my chest that brought me back to the present moment in this phase. That pain was familiar. Anxiety. Pain can be remembered but emotion is always present tense. When I feel that burning, I always think, “what am I afraid of?” So, the burning in my chest got my attention, and the emotion it triggered just made me want to cry—for what had happened, for what was happening now, for what was to come.

Phase Two: I Make

We all felt antsy. We could not move, obviously, so we made things. Some of us were makers already. Some of us were just starting because we needed to use our hands, our whole bodies, really. “Making” became a connection to the body because we struggled to remember what it felt like jump out of bed in the morning and just move around.

I had already resigned myself to burrowing in, to hiding from the rain or the sun, or the snow all dappled with the morning light. Many of us were awake in the night, adopting a kind of nocturnal posture, a vigilance, so mornings were a struggle and the body wants to sleep. But the body also wants to move. The body wants to live, so we made things and that helped.

Phase Three: All

Then there was the moment when, while standing in a room in the house, you might have looked around and felt an overcoming sense of place. When it happened to me, I thought, “This is all there is. There is no world outside.” We all thought it, at varying times. This shelter that surrounded you was safety, yet confinement. It was freedom even as it was forced.

We gathered into ourselves. What else could we do? Normal ways of connecting were exhausting even as they were convenient. Just a touch on the trackpad, an invisible current of Wi-Fi in the air we were now afraid to breathe when we left our known territory.

Phase Four: Things

We talked and pined of how things used to be. When will we get back to “normal?” was the question on everyone’s lips. “Things are hard,” my friends said when they called, and if I felt like answering. Things are hard, I wanted to say, but which things? The isolation, the illness, the comfort measures, the coping mechanisms, the uncertainty? I need new things, I wanted to say.

And maybe in this phase, I added things—furniture, cookware, groceries, gardens, books, words. Words were the most difficult to summon. Words were elusive when I tried to put them in order and triggering when they fell into place. Words are funny things. I need new things, new words.

Phase Five: New

It was a new day and we greeted it with joy, truly. To be honest, after a brief moment of elation came a sudden, familiar recognition that is was also just another day, another stone in the path forward toward whatever comes next. We were cautious to contain our joy, cautious to touch skin to skin again, cautious to trust. Rightly so.

But the sun was out, and yes, I did walk into the light of that day blinking it away from my eyes. We all did. We looked up at the sky that was blue and dotted with white clouds. It was straight out of a movie we have all seen. I pro