Longitudinal readers of Writing Boots will recall that last year I kept a rolling diary during the first few months of the lockdown, called “Coronavirus and us: Let’s hold it together, together.” I’ve been re-reading these posts roughly in time with this year, but not been tempted to reproduce them for you. They’re interesting mostly in the aggregate. And they’re disorienting, because a year ago we were all concussed and grieving, and our temporal memories are really, really warped. Anyway: This post, from March 23, is the first one I felt like sharing as a standalone. Don’t ask me why this one, I don’t know. —DM
Monday, 11:45 a.m.
Family “staff meeting” to discuss need for more structure in days ahead. Schoolwork, exercise, household projects. (Sewing masks?) Teenage daughter mostly silent—not sullen, just sad. “What are you thinking about, Baby?” A shrug. Tears.
John Steinbeck wrote the most wonderful essay about his best friend Ed Ricketts (upon whom he based the character “Doc,” in Cannery Row).
One paragraph has stayed with me and I think of it a lot these days. After Steinbeck has established that Ricketts was uncommonly generous with his money and his things:
His feeling for psychic pain in normal people was also philosophic. He would say that nearly everything that can happen to people not only does happen but has happened for a million years. “Therefore,” he would say, “for everything that can happen there is a channel or mechanism in the human to take care of it—a channel worn down in prehistory and transmitted to the genes.”