Mayday, mayday!

Dear President Trump,

Happy May Day. Happy International Workers’ Day. Happy (I guess….. not) First Day of the Fourth Month of Life As We Knew It No Longer Existing.

And here we are.

The stooped woman wearing the same brown corduroy pants and turquoise coat she wears every day is walking her (very) elderly chocolate brown lab (very) slowly up the block just like she does every morning at about this time. It would be pure invention to say their pace has slowed since the pandemic hit or that I can somehow tell she’s in some way burdened by the crisis – for all I know she’s on an extended silent retreat with a self-imposed no-media rule and knows nothing of what is going on. Yes, that’s an absolutely out-there bit of invention, but they do walk slowly enough that they could be engaging in a daily walking meditation.

Anyway, I bring her up 1) because she really is incredibly predictable and as such if I were only going by her (and by extension everyone else and everything else that superficially appears unchanged from this May 1 to last year’s May 1) I might be fooled into thinking that things must not be that bad, that things haven’t changed that much, and 2) because she reminds me that continuing to do what needs to be done is something we can’t ignore, pandemic or no.

With regard to #2, I hope you get that this woman, her dog, and the walk they appear to need to take every day are really stand-ins for all that all of us need to find ways to keep doing even when our world is being shaken like a snow globe in the hands of an impulsive, angry toddler. We can’t tell from one moment to the next whether the giant toddler is will crash us down onto the floor for the hell of it, will be distracted by some shiny object and will carelessly set us on the very edge of a table, or if by some mercy a competent adult will coax the globe out of the toddler’s hands, give him a biscuit, and put him to bed. Whether any of these possibilities (or any others pertaining to our collective crisis) come to pass is outside of our control.

I would really like to be able to say that aside from the vagaries of whether our world will be trashed by an all-too-powerful mean-spirited toddler (yes, I’m talking about you), all of us Whos down in Whoville can exercise hyper-local control and can choose whether to keep walking our dogs (or whatever else we would normally do), but that’s not reality, is it? No, it’s not.

Thus, part of what I think we need to remember, that we need to never forget, is that the luxury of such choices is not currently and has never been evenly distributed. Yes, I, personally, get to choose whether I will walk my dogs as usual and fold clothes today and I’m grateful for this latitude, but the mom down in Rainier Valley who used to have time to take her dog around the block in the wee hours of the morning now has to spend that time figuring out which neighbor’s wifi she can use so her kids can have their half-hour of Zoom time with their teachers while she calls around to food banks to find fresh produce. In other words, some people have never had stable snow globes where the “snow” is just prettily scattered on the ground or floats in lovely, temporary flurries when we ourselves decide to shake things up – some of us have had to live and make things work in the midst of constant veritable snow storms, storms that require in-the-moment reactions and that leave little space for intentional planning. And now things are much, much worse.

So it’s not actually a happy May Day today and nor is it a happy International Workers’ Day today – the death toll keeps climbing, workers keep getting screwed, and the dangerous man-child in charge is becoming increasingly desperate, which is very scary and doesn’t bode well for our fragile collective existence.

May we be safe from our POTUS.
May we find ways to enjoy May flowers even as we brace for the coming storms.
May we recognize the strength of those who must constantly cope creatively.
May we accept that things can look ok and absolutely not be ok.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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