Most of the time these days, in the COVID-19 quarantine, I feel pretty much like this:
…Dreamily staring at plants. Of course I am pretty sure I didn’t just snap away half the universe… but in a way, it does feel like half of the universe is gone – or at least, changed. Of course, I’m so fortunate that I get to be this way. We are well now, we have enough food and a house and the funds to take care of the plants that I walk by. But nevertheless, things are strange, and as usual I feel like fandoms might help illustrate it all.
There are often these pocket realities, such as the one Thanos created briefly. Another notable example is the Nexus in Star Trek Generations, where Picard and Kirk both find themselves in a breezily-content version of what they want. Awful problems rage outside but only in a far-off sort of sense. Kirk makes eggs with dill, Picard has a Christmas with the family he never had.
Picard does eventually get a sense that things are not quite right.
And then off he goes to save the universe. Likewise, in Doctor Who’s “Amy’s Choice,” Amy and Rory are living it up pastoral and pregnant-style. Amy gets a sense that things don’t quite make sense, and not just because of Rory’s mullet. Pretty soon they learn it was all a Dream Lord fantasy and they have to go freeze in ponchos in the TARDIS.
But before they have to wake up and go save everything, there is that moment for these characters, a quiet, dreaminess bathed in golden-hour-light. Sometimes I’m like that.
And then other times, I feel like Riker from “Frame of Mind,” that amazing episode in which his mind makes the construction of a fake asylum while he is being probed. Then I know that things are very not right indeed, and certainly not an accurate depiction of “real” reality … but it’s all I’ve got right now to get along.
These are the hard days. The days I might just talk to spoons.
I’ve felt like this before, of course, and written about “existential motion sickness”that I think we all have sometimes. These days perhaps it’s just more of an acute case. But if I’m to draw any conclusions from this mire of golden light, if I’m to get a perspective from a bit outside the Nexus, Thanos’ garden, Amy’s cottage, even Riker’s asylum, it comes from what Troi says to Riker at the end of the episode.
“Your mind must have created a defence mechanism that helped you resist the neurosomatic process. Your unconscious fastened on to elements of your real life in an attempt to keep you grounded, to keep you sane.” – Troi
That asylum was helpful. All that mental work meant something – it kept him sane. So, too, are all the ways we are grappling with this time. We need to do the work to make things right – wear those masks, distance, be kind and innovative – but in between, drift in and out of your Nexuses. Go to the asylum if need be. Our favorite characters helped save the world anyway, and so can we.