• Mel Jones

A Nietzsche Conundrum: 2022

I have made ambitious plans for 2022. Blogging, writing, photography, reading, exercise, weight loss, travel plans, concerts, museums, teaching (well, that’s my job), learning one language, refreshing myself on another, publishing.

Publishing is always a hard one. Where do I send what I’ve written? Just blind sends? Send everywhere? What do I do about rejection? What does someone who hasn’t been writing send out? The Internet is quick to tell me that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet during a plague and The Canterbury Tales are about people escaping a plague. I’ve written shopping lists. Well, not really, I’ve added items to my “saved for later” list on Amazon. I’ve even edited it. So that counts, right?

2020 and 2021 were difficult for me. I lost people to Covid, some close, some not. Parents, siblings, friends. All exhausting. Paralyzing. And although we were all stranded in our homes the constant bombardment of this one dying then that one, takes its toll. Covid, not Covid.

No beginnings. No ends. All of us swept up in the chaos. Like Dorothy caught in the twister—but where we’ve landed isn’t the bright and beautiful Munchkin land—we’re somewhere in the forest and the trees are throwing apples at us.

Someone “tests positive” – when did you last see them? All hugging forbidden. Wash your hands! Put on your mask. Be sure to cover the nose and mouth. Step six feet back!

Tests positive, we don’t even say what for. We know. What is horrible is positive, it’s good to be negative. It’s opposite decade.

Add in four years of bad politics. Climate change. Anti-vaxxers, 5g, conspiracy theories, insurrection, friendships destroyed.

Variants, vaccines. Take a breath. Alone. Outdoors. Mask up, move on.

Digest the news. Ignore what isn’t being addressed. By the news teams, by the government, by our hearts.

People die. Don’t write a poem or listen to a song. Carry on.

We are all putting our grief on hold for some bright day when hugging and eating in public will be safe. Grief is never-ending. It changes and evolves into part of who we become. It punctuates all of our expressions. But what happens when your grief is buried; a mere half dozen deaths in 855,843 at home and 5,493,239 worldwide. Only a few I was close to, suck it up, Buttercup.

Booster up. Take a chance, dinner out. QR-code menus. Anxiety builds. No eating with masks on and yet the sign on the door said masks required. Take-out it is.

Domestic abuse up. Suicides up. Murders up. Put on your mask! Time to go.

I’m vaccinated, boosted, masked, and anxious. This is the new normal and I—we—must adapt. Step six feet back. Six feet under. Not time to grieve. Pass on through. No wakes. No memorials. Just silent moments without connection have brought us here to the edge and we gaze into the abyss.

My cell phone buzzes. A loved one: Test positive.

Once again, the abyss does more than gaze back.

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