We’re in a bit of an in-between time. There are good words for where we are: penumbra, for instance, is the area between total light and total shadow. Or we could try alluvian, a more geographic term describing the wettish area between land and sea. In musical theater terms, we have gone “into the woods.”
In any case, here we are in quarantine. A vaccine is on the horizon (although cases are rising and it seems no doomsday language is too hyperbolic for the state of COVID right now.) And the end of our four-year political dumpster fire has an end date.
Better times may in fact be around the corner. And yet here we are, still in the midst of crisis, and at a point where the beginning of quarantine feels far away. Life before it? It’s almost hard to remember. Who was I before all this? Just how much did I take for granted?
In any case, these challenges in the metaphorical woods are sure to change us. As Olaf put so well in Frozen 2, “Did you know that an Enchanted Forest is a place of transformation? I have no idea what that means, but I can’t wait to see what it’s going to do to each one of us.”
I haven’t yet taken a ride on a water horse, as Elsa does in their woods. But I do know none of us will be quite the same.
In a way, the quarantine has been a crucible, where as Captain Picard famously said, “you burn away all irrelevancies until you are left with a pure product: the truth, for all time.” Many of the boxes we checked, because that’s what we did, are gone. The distraction of planning a thing, and going to the thing, and doing the thing, and remembering/posting about the thing, is gone. We are left with ourselves, just ourselves, and our innermost circle of family and home.
It leaves you with time to reflect on what you are when you aren’t part of the web of community and economy (although my Amazon account would surely tell a different story.) What do I truly miss? I don’t entirely know. I struggle with numerous anxieties, social among them, and so a lack of casual interaction can be a relief – but still it’s dull without it. I do miss newness – new ideas, new art, and above all, theater. Something atrophies without that emotional and mental stimulation.
That said, one thing is certain, we don’t absolutely need what we thought we needed. Holidays can in fact happen without the traditions, without even the people. They are smaller, we are smaller, life’s scope is smaller, but they happen. And maybe I wanted all of that to prove something to myself – some competence, or desirability, or worthiness, that was there all along?
Then again, maybe quarantine isn’t a crucible to finding more about our true selves. Maybe we are only partially ourselves outside of normal life. After all, breathing in and touching and talking and sharing the elements is what we are designed to do. Without it, we deny our basic instincts.
In any case, right now, perched in the penumbra, or the alluvian time, we can see both into both sides. The beforetimes, busy and distracted and seemingly so foundational. The now, faltering and fragile. We can perhaps reassess our assumptions about what is necessary.
It would be nice to think we will strip ourselves of the waste, the needless trips, the constant need to distract and the desperate drive to doing it all with all the people. And yet we do have that drive to explore, to try things out, and you can’t do that without a bit of waste and confusion. We will still need to be imperfect.
But we’ll be doing all that differently because we are different people now, transformed as much as Elsa was, finding her new mission. I hope we can all realize that time in the woods means learning you can’t rely on your nice, neat neighborhood to provide what you need forever. We can’t rely on the past to save us or to make our meaning. We can no longer just take for granted ways of doing things because that is how it always has been done. Things can be and will be shaken up, and change is the only constant. We must be resilient, we must be open, we must nurture any compassion within us. We must investigate what is new and different. We must be flexible enough to deal with the path ahead of us, even if we must cut it ourselves.
Even though we feel so separate, we have been in these woods together. Hopefully we can remember that as we all as a community go out of the woods.
When this pandemic ends and things are make to “normal”- most likely will go into the woods by the theater. However- that will not happen for a while- only because Hadestown isn’t touring to Charlotte until October 2021. One of my enchanted forests is in the theater.
However- will want do something special
Yes!! So much theater! I was lucky enough to see Hadestown in NY before the shut down – it’s incredible! Hope you can see it in Oct. By then we might actually be out of the woods…
I did some hope today in the US Tour- The US Tour of Frozen is starting to put up dates. So, that better keep up- Charlotte still isn’t scheduled. But was glad to hear Frozen is soon about to be on tour again (Frozen was the postponement that disappointed me the most- which is why I asked for the Original Broadway Album for Christmas)