In my notebook, I still have a list of topics I meant to write about, but I am faced with the peculiar situation that, though I made this list at the beginning of March—technically still less than a month ago—many of the items on said list have become irrelevant. Others, merely random; uninspiring, under the circumstances; or —if it involved actions—impossible to pull off. The world has very different preoccupations and rules now than it did then, and we are not going to the grocery store.
Take one idea, the problem of buying in bulk. At the time I was thinking of the lack of bulk stores in Westchester. Now, I might say: the fact that Amazon, or other online sellers, don’t have many options in bulk—the fact that bulk items are sold out; that shopping is unreliable as a rule. Even worries about the health of those who are doing those jobs, more dangerous now than they were, and which has caused workers to strike. There are too many worries to spare, for both self and for those we know, and they overwhelm everything.
Another idea I meant to contend with was voluntary simplicity. It was (and perhaps still is) a movement focusing on paring down consumerism and reliance on non-essentials, focusing on middle or upper middle class. But combined with a philosophy that gave more space for beauty and so forth than I have tended to see in the zero-waste movement. Perhaps they are, after all, merely the same thing in a different package. I have not had the opportunity to research deeply enough to pinpoint the differences, though the difference in general feel was striking to me. The simplicity approach, I suppose, felt slightly more thoughtful—more honest—less trendy.
Voluntary simplicity—that is one thing, and not something I know enough to discuss. But involuntary simplicity—well, that’s another question.
We are out of Internet today. If we do use Internet for a short time it will be cellular, used sparingly. We were out of Internet yesterday as well. It is a particularly terrible thing to miss, when in lieu of that you have only the here and now—and cannot change either the location of the here, or the events of the now. But that is only one facet of the involuntary simplicity facing many—there is the difference in shopping habits (no one is going to the store, except for groceries) work habits (only those who must are going to work, others must stay home).Social habits—of course—even reading habits (the lack of library, unfortunately, a void I did not expect to distress me as much as it does—though I should have.)
Instead we are making lots of homemade bread; cleaning (and not cleaning); doing yard work; writing, doing school online (in my sister’s case) and, in my case, dancing—though since I stream my music that will not be happening today until I build up the fortitude to search for a CD.
Looking out the window in the back door, the forsythias are blooming, a bright, unlikely yellow like eggs. I wanted to say something poetic, comparing it to “distilled sunlight” but what it really reminds me of is the color of an egg yolk.
The glint of our blue globe, hidden in the back garden, flashes out. It’s peaceful—and joyful.
A moment of simplicity—a wonderful one at that—but, still, involuntary. If things were otherwise I would not be sitting here, now, at the counter, writing an article in longhand, watching the sun on the forsythias brighten, darken, and brighten again as it falls back from behind a cloud, while the sound of the wind makes its way, in sporadic gusts, around the house.
My mother and I have recently been discussing happiness, and having small differences of opinion—but this is no surprise. Still, if I were to ask myself, at this very moment, am I happy (or at any rate not unhappy—perhaps a crucial difference) I would have to capitulate.
That doesn’t mean that at other times of the day—or in the evening, when the sun goes and there is nothing left to busy myself with—that won’t change. In fact, recent experience says it probably will. It is that whole ‘living in the moment’ conundrum. It’s terribly hard! Which is funny, as we live in the moment whether we like to or not—but perhaps that is exactly why we are always looking backward and regretting, or looking forward and worrying.
Time itself is an involuntary experience and humans—we hate feeling trapped.