Oh, look. A blank page in Google Docs. A page with no words. No letters, no text, no pictures. Nothing. It’s blank.
I hear voices, screaming, in my head. Too many for me to count. Hell, I can’t even sort them out. Can’t tell you what any particular voice says, there’s so many of them I can’t separate one from another, they all blur into a jumble of meaningless noise.
And I sit, staring at a blank page, wondering if I’ll ever find more words, of any kind, to fill it with.
That’s why I’m here, on these pages, writing these words. I’m trying to sort out the voices, the jumble of noise, that has me frozen in time, locked in place, motionless, and feeling I’m slowly dying.
Yes, I’m fighting back. You know any 62 year old white guys that top 20 MPH for 60 minutes on a stationary exercise bike? Hell, I hit 23.3 miles in 60 minutes 2 weeks ago. A 62 year old white guy. Tell me I’m dead. Tell me it’s all over. Tell me I can’t. I’m trying to break 24 miles in an hour, you know. And after that, who knows? I’ll go where it leads me.
And I still work. 5 days a week. Fixing other people’s computers. Oh, the things I can say about that experience. It’s a train wreck every day. With the same people doing the same silly things that break their computers, endlessly, week after endless week, day after endless day. “Martha let another scammer remote login to her computer this week. She’s back to have it cleaned up. Again. This week.” The list is endless.
I know part of the writing problem is COVID-19. I know that. I’ve managed to find that one voice in the ocean of noise that screams, endlessly, “You can’t ever write anything that tops the stupidity, insanity, chaos, hilarity, and sorrow of COVID-19! Don’t even waste your time trying!”
But, I hear that calm, quiet voice, at the same time. The one that all but whispers, “People need light in their lives. They need hope. They need fantasy. Dreams. Something other than the fear of instant death, the fear of friends or loved ones being locked in a hospital room, and never being seen, or heard from again.”
Of course, I think I can do that. I can write such words. I can tell such stories.
And then I don’t. Not one word. For 6 weeks now. Not one word. And the number of words in the past year has slowly, steadily died out. Until it all but stopped, months ago. And even that little trickle has now dried up. Like the entire West of the USA. Turned into a parched, fire ridden, no water anywhere, desert.
I can hear the anger in me. I can feel it. I can taste it. It’s there. It never goes away. I can’t escape it. And I don’t doubt I’ll find anger everywhere in the knot of tangled voices screaming in my head. “White people.” “Karens.” “Male Karens.” “Rethuglicans.” “Trumpettes.” “Christians”. It’s an endless list. A choir of cacophony. And it never shuts up. Even in my sleep, I hear the voices. I wake up, and there they are again. Privileged, inconvenienced, spoiled rotten, 2 year old toddlers pitching fits because they can’t have everything their way.
That’s why COVID-19 is a hoax, you know. Because it’s in their way. They can’t go out on Friday nights and get drunk with their friends at the local watering hole. They can’t go to their church, where the Pastor beats them into conformance each week. They can’t escape their houses, with those bratty, rotten kids, that just won’t shut the fuck up. They can’t go hide at work all day, 5 days a week, where they can escape family, the spouse, the kids, the dogs, the cats, the bills, the dishes, the laundry, the lawn, the flower gardens, the cars that need washing and cleaning, painting the shed in the backyard.
They can’t be social. And that means they have to face their realities. Their truths. The things they don’t dare face.
Judy told me, years ago. She told me. “We know, Mark. We know. But we don’t think about it, don’t admit it, because, if we did…” She never finished that sentence. COVID-19 has finished it for her. The wildfires in the west have finished it. The floods in the East have finished it. The hurricanes and tornadoes have finished it.
We can’t admit we are wrong, because we’d have to change everything about our lives. We can’t accept that how we want to live, our booming economies, our personal mansions, our endless consumption of goods, is killing us. Is hastening our doom.
We can’t accept that our great civilizations are destined to collapse under their own weight, and take us with them.
COVID-19 finished her words. Filled in the blank.
We can’t let COVID-19 be real, because it would end everything we believe in, destroy everything we hold to be true, wreck our safe, controlled, perfect lives, show us we don’t know a damn thing. Not one damn thing.
It would mean that book, “All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten” was a lie.
COVID-19 can’t be real. Because I can’t deal with anything if COVID-19 is real.
And, here I sit. Staring at blank pages in Google Docs. Wondering if I’ll ever write anything again.
Last May, I said we’d hit 400,000 fatalities in the US. Some Karen somewhere told me I was such a negative nellie. A downer. And declared, at 80,000 dead, this was almost over. It’s 16 months later now, and we’re over 617,000 dead in the US.
You want to know why COVID-19 can’t be real?
It destroys people’s fantasy worlds. Like climate change. And so many other things people deny exist. It destroys people’s fantasy worlds. And they don’t like it. So it can’t be real.
I’ll find my way through this. I always have. I always will. And it will be with my eyes wide open, and me knowing what kind of world I live in, what the limits of that world are, what the fantasies of that world are, what that world does to people who can’t handle the truth.
I’ll find my way.
It’s what I do.
It’s who I am.