For the past couple of months, like all the rest of privileged humanity, The Boy and I (and even J for a while) have been mostly spending time at home, punctuated by the occasional grocery pick up and walk outside. We’ve been filling the hours with games (table top games and video games) and making amateur art and reading and watching stuff on streaming services. We’re actually pretty content living this way. Wish J was still home; wish we weren’t incessantly worried about a multitude of other people and all the rippled out dire consequences of this global situation…but I mean…personally? We like this kind of life.
Because I’m an avid reader and we prefer streaming services that have some intuitive artificial intelligence to data gather, I’ve run across things like this…
TRENDING on <streaming service of your choosing>:
Outbreak; Armageddon; Zombieland; Sean of the Dead; 28 Days Later; War Games; Walking Dead; etc.
Basically movies about various forms the apocalypse could take and living through plagues, major humanity threatening disasters, political chaos/dystopia…you know…real uplifting stuff. <insert eye roll here>.
And To Read lists that include classic and modern science and/or society warning novels by George Orwell and Ray Bradbury and Aldous Huxley and Chuck Palanuik and Margaret Atwood and Lois Lowry and Suzanne Collins.
I’ve read a lot of the books on these lists before…mostly when I was young…and re-reading them now, and certainly watching horror/thriller/heavy drama-type depictions of the world ending and human suffering are not exactly my cuppa tea at my present spot in history.
Don’t get me wrong…that’s some fine work in film making and literature. I’ve watched/read some (actually read MOST) of it in the past, during less bleak times. And I’m not deluded. Things are bad. I’ll even admit, I can’t really can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel yet, and that certainly doesn’t make me feel very good. I want to be optimistic and hopeful and provide that to my son and other children, and my friends who have anxiety that parallels or overtakes mine. But I mean…shit is chaotic right now. And I guess I understand why people want to marinate themselves in apocalyptic fiction…maybe it’s catharsis…maybe they feel it’s preparing them for potential future outcomes…maybe in some cases they want to favorably compare our current situation to the fictional end-alls, like, ‘Could be worse, right?’ Maybe in some cases they want to see humanity come out the other side of the Bad Shit and win, or at least overcome and learn something. I suppose I get it. But I just can’t do it myself.
We’ve been watching happy stuff. Cartoons and old sitcoms and classic comedies and superhero movies. Documentaries about space exploration and baseball and animation and building amusement park rides. And I know there’s a portion of the population, maybe even a significant amount of my reading audience that thinks this makes me out of touch, or willfully ignorant. But I’m not. I know Shit is Bad now. There’s even a part of me that acknowledges there might not be a good way out the other side of this. But I guess…if the world is really ending, or even just changing with the pendulum swinging into extended Dark Times…this is what I’m doing.
One of the goofy shows we’ve binge watched over this long time spent at home in closed quarters is Mike Judge’s animated series, King of the Hill.
In one episode, one of the supporting cast characters believes the world is ending, and he turns to the Hill family (Peggy, Hank, and Bobby, above), for help. Hank’s response is to invite him in for tacos (the Hills were having tacos for dinner that night). And the freaked out character essentially says, “This is what you’re going to do when the world’s coming to an end?! Spend time with your family eating tacos?”
Hank doesn’t believe the world is ending (the supporting cast character is known to fly off the deep end often, and this particular time, he thinks he has traveled in time and if he runs into himself, it will end the world as we know it…a definitive impossibility…and Hank is aware of this). But he basically tells his friend, ‘Yes. This is what I’m going to be doing if the world indeed ends right now or any time in the next several minutes.’
And I know it’s just an old prime time cartoon, but I kinda dig that. And that’s sort of how I feel right now. I don’t have much control of anything. When I sit and think about things or have private discussions about the state of the world with J, I can get upset and afraid. I’m worried about a lot of people, and at least in some capacity, even with all of our privileges, I worry about J and The Boy and myself. I don’t like uncertainty. But something I do know is that there’s nothing else I can do, and I truly don’t believe there’s anything else I SHOULD do, than to be present in my life to give and receive love and kindness and joy. To soak it up and spread it as much as I can. To help who I can. And most of the time now, that’s pretty much spending time with my family eating tacos. And watching stuff that makes us laugh on TV. And if the world ends right now or in the next few months or so because of whatever…I did what I could do. I still gave love. I still tried to spread kindness and joy and help all I could. I still soaked up joy.
Please continue to maintain social distance. Wash your hands. Help someone if you can. Remember everyone who isn’t blessed with the ability to stay home from work. Tip big if you’re going to go out and think about ways to stay safe and keep other people safe. And if you can manage…maybe still plant an apple tree.