Same As It Ever Was

December 1, 2020

Do you understand that we will never be the same again?
Do you understand that we will never be the same again?
The future’s in our hands and we will never be the same again
The future’s in our hands and we will never be the same again
— Dan Smith, b. July 14, 1986
English singer and lyricist, member of the band Bastille

“Things We Lost in the Fire,” the song I take today’s epigraph from, was playing on the audio stream this afternoon as I lay on a table having my legs massaged by a physical therapist. I’ve been undergoing a regimen of stretches, biofeedback, and balance therapies for about two months. I had experienced an anxiety attack early in September that left me frightened and bewildered.

I was doing so well, I thought, managing all the dislocations of the pandemic. As retired folk, our annuity payments continued to arrive punctually via direct deposit. We had easy access to food and medicine. We followed masking and social distancing suggestions, we kept in touch via Zoom with the people we are closest too. We were safe and healthy, albeit sad that we weren’t seeing our closest friends and family. The three major Gallivants I had looked forward to — literary and writing festivals in Michigan, New York, and Vermont — were prudently cancelled. My planned trip to the Island of Iona in Scotland fell through. But these were losses for everyone, not just me.

The anxiety attack exposed all the physical manifestations of weakness I had been ignoring or minimizing. I was walking with great difficulty, lacking sufficient flexibility and endurance to keep up the level of activity that my body and my mind need to mitigate my lifelong endogenous depression. My tendency to minimize my own suffering in comparison to how much worse off everybody else is went into overdrive. I lost concentration and purpose. It was my usual autumn response to Seasonal Affective Disorder, on steroids.

And now, here I am. I’m feeling, and moving, better. And I’m here for Holidailies. The great joy of this is that it’s always been an online activity, a virtual community, an Internet phenomenon. Something normal, something familiar, something done the way we’ve always done it.

Welcome, old friends and new. Thank you for being here.

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