Other people’s words about … the world we live in
In the past few months [my eight-year-old son] Jack has become exasperated with my talking back to the radio. ‘You have to cheer up,’ he’ll say … And so I’ve been trying to keep most of my feelings about the news to myself. I’m grateful for the trust and sanguinity Jack displays these days, which makes me feel I’ve done something right. It’s only that, as the world seems to become an increasingly dangerous place, I wonder if happiness is the point. Maybe passion, something that can keep you satisfied inside your own head, independent of other people, is going to be worth more in Jack’s lifetime.
From ‘Lost and Wanted’
by Nell Freudenberger
The novel I’ve quoted from in today’s blog post was published in 2019, meaning that Freudenberger wrote it well before the coronavirus pandemic began. And here, in fact, when Freudenberger’s Boston-based narrator Helen mentions the world becoming an increasingly dangerous place, she is, in the context of the paragraphs that precede this passage, referring not to public health but to politics. Specifically, she is talking about the election of Donald Trump, and about the effect his policies have had on her and her world.
Still, Helen’s words ring eerily true to me in the world of 2020, this post-pandemic world. What is it that keeps us going when happiness is either inaccessible or beside the point? Is it passion, as Helen suggests? I’m not sure, but I do like the idea of finding something that can keep you satisfied inside your own head, independent of other people.
So tell me: what keeps you satisfied inside your own head? I’m curious. I’d love to know.
Lately I’ve been reading …
- …The country is suffering because no one knows how to look after the fire anymore: A review of, and an excerpt from, Indigenous fire management practitioner Victor Steffensen’s book Fire Country, published by Hardie Grant.
- … Our president has called this a war. This is not war, but worse than war: André Aciman on the aftermath of the pandemic, and what the future might look like.
- … None of us traveled to this pandemic; the pandemic traveled to us. Though the impulse is much the same: gather our strength, journey hour by hour, and one day, know we will reach its end: Shobha Rao, with a Buddhist’s perspective on birdsong and how, metaphorically, to travel through these quiet streets of the COVID-19 world.