WOKE UP THIS MORNING
Stepped outside and thought I must still be dreaming.
(– WE DIDN’T CHOOSE THIS NEW REALITY BUT WE MUST MAKE THE GOOD PARTS LAST, AND THERE ARE MANY –)
People were everywhere, strolling, holding hands or alone or with a four-legged buddy. Walking, biking, running, talking, thinking. Out in the fresh air sunshine. Very few people in cars, fewer still on scooters. Almost everyone was being thoughtful of their neighbors, stepping aside to make a clear path for each other.
I walked down to the beach and it was empty! What a sight, to see the ocean waves rolling in without any humans nearby. Someone told me the bay was as clean as it had been in years, after grades of F the last three years, and even a month ago.
I LOOKED SKYWARD, IN WONDER
It hadn’t rained but the blue sky was crystal clear, the slowly drifting clouds bright white. I could see far into the stratosphere. I could clearly see all the way to the far end of Malibu, and south to Palos Verdes Peninsula. And out to Catalina Island! Ocean birds gliding above, and I had noticed so many different bird songs on the way down, on city streets where the sound of cars usually drowned them out. (If the birds were even there at all.)
On the way back home, I looked up and down our empty streets, and where were all the unfortunate folks without a home? I stopped someone on Main Street and they said, I think a lot of them are now being sheltered in empty hotel rooms. I had noticed there were obviously a lot fewer tourists, than the 9,000,000 per year Santa Monica usually gets (with our resident population of one percent of nine million).
I SAW A FEDEX TRUCK
Curbside, and waved at the driver and said, Thanks for the work you do every day, to get us what we need! He smiled (I think) and waved back.
Back home I found my regular mail carrier Chris filling the boxes, and he said that yes, he was concerned about the Republican drum beats getting louder to close the Post Office and turn it over to a private company. But he’d been getting a lot of appreciation lately from people on his route, and that touched him. I thought too of the cable guy who came yesterday, into “unknown territory.” I then gratefully received the take out order of a delicious lunch I didn’t have to prepare, and tipped and thanked the delivery person for their service.
I GOT IN MY CAR
(– NOT FANTASY, ALL THIS, BUT UNIMAGINABLE JUST TWO MONTHS AGO –)
To give it a little battery charging time and get some gas (it had been more than a month, nice to be using so little fossil fuel), and drove on the 10 to the 405, to gaze down and see that it was close to empty. The 405!
Driving back, I heard on a radio talk show from people who said they were getting a lot of projects done now, that they had put off for years, and finally diving into creative endeavors that had been only a thought, a dream. Many were calling to say they were finding new and better ways to use the social media they had previously disdained, to connect with family and friends in new and wonderful ways.
(– PEOPLE WHO DON’T WATCH THE NEWS, THE VISUAL FACTS, HAVE A DIFFERENT OUTLOOK –)
Arriving home I flipped on the TV to see stories about so many people getting the healthcare they needed, from the government. And economic assistance for themselves and their small businesses, in very difficult times. I saw food banks and so many organizations stepping up efforts to make sure no one went hungry. I saw the federal and state governments making great efforts to see that our hospitals and medical staffs have what they need.
ON ANOTHER STATION
(– TRUE NEWS, NOT “FAKE” –)
I learned that the U.N. Secretary General had called for a worldwide ceasefire — what a dream! But sadly, the US and Russia blocked it. Can you imagine? But nearly all the nations of the world were now working together anew, over healthcare issues, education, economics, gender equality, water and sanitation, peace, justice and freedom and other human rights. Um, except for the US. Gosh, how can we correct that?
I also saw stories of meat processing plants closing down. Maybe a pork and beef shortage!! Well… less cattle grazing, more rain forest, more veggies, better health. Also, saw wildlife coming back, black bears all over Yosemite, lions sunning on the warm highway pavement in Kenya, parks full of hundreds of squirrels, even bioluminescence, absent for years, returning to oceans and rivers.
I opened emails to find that our City Council and staff were working long hours to take care of us, and planning for the future by cutting unnecessary spending drastically, putting residents first, and eliminating very highly-paid staff positions. Crime is down, the streets are safer, the City is partnering with Westside Food Bank to feed our own and renters are more able to stay in their homes. Hurrah! Thank you!
I KNOW YOU KNOW ALL THIS
You’re living it. But it won’t last forever, and when the time inevitably comes when loud voices will say, time to go back to normal, we must clearly, resolutely, with our legion of voices, declare unwaveringly — NO! Not the old normal. The New Normal. These good parts of it, anyway.
Of course this is one side of the coin, and it has become visible only through great suffering and tragic, tremendous death. We must make something precious of it. We have seen for ourselves that all these things we were told were impossible, are indeed possible. We must raise our voices, that represent so many, the vast, overwhelming majority, not the one percent, to drown out their expensive noise.
We’re not going back.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org