A PANDEMIC VIEW

I don’t think anyone would disagree that we’re going through a challenging and frightening time – pandemic, global warming, massive fires, catastrophic floods, earthquakes …. Add to these our private crises, especially losing loved ones to Covid.

Not much reason to be happy these days or even optimistic. Yet, what’s the alternative? Waste time being constantly morose ? Be paralyzed by fear? Throw in whatever towel we have left?

My middle name isn’t Pollyanna, but I guess I’m a stubborn believer in “where there’s life….” On the other hand, I’m painfully aware of what the pandemic has cost me in unrecoverable time with my grandchildren, jettisoned travel plans, and lost opportunities to publicize my books since social distancing rules out in-person author talks. Yet from another view, what’s so bad about having uninterrupted time for the work we love without compulsory time-consuming appointments? I’m not talking solely about writers. How many people forced to do their jobs at home have discovered new and fulfilling ways to work, as well as hours saved from traveling? (And how many are reluctant to return to “normal” life in an office!)

In her novel “The Weight of Ink,” Rachel Kadish graphically describes life during the Bubonic Plague in 16th century London. It was almost impossible for families and friends to find out who was still alive, since the only means of communication was by word of mouth and it was dangerous to venture out. The isolation made a horrifying situation far worse. Imagine how they would have felt if they’d had our technical marvels!

So instead of pounding the wall in frustration, I’m folding my hands in gratitude for such connections as phones and Zoom. It’s even brought me new friends. True we haven’t met in person (yet), but friendship blooms surprisingly in technological soil. I’ve also found healthy distraction in the abundant on-line courses that are available and usually free.

Ironically my long-distance relationships feel closer because there’s a sense of our being in this together. I’m more patient with quirks that used to seem important and I feel increasing tenderness not only towards my family, but my friends, students, neighbors. If we have to endure this plague, let’s at least find value in being in it together.

I’m reminded of when my grandson was a wily seven-year-old, trying to bargain his way out of a task he didn’t like. Not even knowing what the word meant he asked, “What’s my option?”

That’s a good question. Let’s opt for good answers.

WEBSITE: www.annehosansky.com
BOOKS: COME and GO – available through BookBaby.com;  WIDOW’S WALK –iUniverse.com; TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW –Xlibris.com, TEN WOMEN OF VALOR and ROLE PLAY – Amazon.com; also Amazon Kindle.

TRIUMPH, TWO-SIDED

“What I would give to win a gold medal,” a friend said as she watched the triumphant winners at the Olympics.

But what would she give? Triumphs invariably have a price tag. Sure, it would be thrilling to be Simone Biles in her high-flying days. But for every medalist, before those podium moments there are years of relentless, often painful, practice day after day, while childhood slips away.  As Biles poignantly revealed, the wear and tear isn’t only on muscles, but on fragile psyches. Though her story is one of the more dramatic, it isn’t unique. What’s the psychological burden on an Olympic hopeful whose years of training die in a second, with just one misstep? Years ago I cringed in empathic pain as a young skater who was performing perfect axles, slipped and fell – her lifelong dream crashing down with her.

Of course it isn’t solely athletes who trade their lives for creative success. I can’t count the times someone has told me it must be “wonderful” to be a writer. Well, yes – but not always. It’s incomparable when what you’re struggling to express finally breathes on the pages. But what about all the desperate hours when your muse is MIA?

Famed author Margaret Atwood  ruefully recalls the time she was halfway through the manuscript of her new book when she had to face the fact that it had gone in the wrong direction. “For a writer that’s Tylenol time,” she says. (Often the recourse is more harmful than Tylenol.)

I have a friend who’s been working on her novel for years, with nothing but her talent and faith in her writing to sustain her. So many of us sacrifice ‘normal” times with family and friends in exchange for lonely hours of work that has no guarantee of success. Even if you are pleased with your book – or opera or symphony or painting – reviewers might not be. Beethoven not only had to cope with increasing  deafness, but turn a metaphorical deaf ear to critics who labeled his Second Symphony a “wounded dragon.”  Puccini reputedly never  got over the initial withering response to “Madama Butterfly.” It takes immeasurable courage and faith to pick yourself up and go on.

Even if your challenge is as seemingly simple as learning to knit a complicated pattern, or cook a gourmet dish, or play a musical instrument, or master a technology like zoom – or whatever you attempt – there will be many times when you question whether it’s worth the effort. I found a sage answer in the words of author and artist Morgan Harper Nichols : “Fall in love with the masterpiece and also the paint on the floor.”  Of course, Nichols didn’t mean to literally love cleaning up the messy floor, but the need to embrace the loneliness and frustration that might – or might never – lead to victory.

It’s for each of us to decide whether the price of success is too steep – or a bargain.

WEBSITE: www.annehosansky.com

BOOKS: COME AND GO – available through BookBaby.com, WIDOW’S WALK –iUniverse.com,  TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW –Xlibris.com, TEN WOMEN OF VALOR and ROLE PLAY- Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle.