Ok, we’ve read all the horrors of the coronavirus pandemic; our minds are thoroughly alerted and alarmed to the perils out there in the world and Shelter-in-Place remains the rule. (When my husband left to the local Safeway, I said, “Be careful!” as if he were going to be wandering the streets of some faraway ghetto or jungle.) Life feels different. Harder and more uncertain. Like a war is beginning, or something is changing forever.
Today we need some encouragement (and to send out a collective snarl against evil-doers). First, let’s take the the high road. From the Meditations of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121-180), Stoic philosopher:
“If you apply yourself to the task before you, following right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to distract you, but keeping your divine part pure, as if you might be bound to give it back immediately; if you hold to this, expecting nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with your present activities according to nature, and with heroic truth in every word and sound which you utter, you will live happily. And there is no man who is able to prevent this.”
“Hasten then to your appointed end and, throwing away idle hopes, come to your own aid, if you care at all for yourself, while it is in your power.”
–Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Book III, 12, 14.
In other words: be kind to yourself, but exercise self-discipline. Speak carefully and stay busy. Create now. No one can stop you from living according to your own rules.
Finally, there are some seriously annoying people out there doing seriously obnoxious things in this moment of public health crisis, from that jerk in Tennessee to the Senator in North Carolina. The law will punish evil-doers, one hopes. In the meantime, all of us have by now experienced toilet paper shortages caused by fearful fellow citizens. Argh! So a big THANK YOU to Seattle Times cartoonist David Horsey, whose work nails the ugliness of hoarding.
Be strong, stay busy, and see you tomorrow!