Computers were making their way into library systems just about the time I was beginning my long volunteer career as a public library trustee. I recall one Washington Library Association keynote session where the speaker began by saying, “I want to introduce you to the concept called the World Wide Web.” My learning curve was a fascinating struggle.
One day my work phone rang. On the line was our library director calling to say, “Someone tried to hack into a public computer in one of our branch libraries.” My jumbled, interior reaction went something like this. “Fascinating, can’t believe it, never heard of such a thing, and…what in heck am I supposed to do about this?”
I didn’t expect that sense of dumbfoundedness to appear in my retired years. Just weeks ago, I named my current life-goals: examining the past, looking at the present, creating my future. Now here I am, living under the Stay-at-Home directive, struggling to. understand this new world of corona virus and COVID-19.
My wife Linda and I were out on one of our two daily walks around the neighbor earlier this week. As we came back via our alley, we passed a young man trying mightily to stuff one more suitcase into his already jammed car trunk. We smiled, said hello, and wished him good luck with his task (all from a safe distance, of course). As we walked past, a Nina Simone song came to mind: “Oh sinner man, where you gonna run to … all on this day?”
Where, indeed? Since we live in a university neighborhood, I’m guessing the young man was going home. In my imagination, he’ll find comfort being with family. But he won’t have run from these troubles.
Such strange times! Back in my other life, the one I lived a couple of months ago, I had numbers of favorite run-to places. Libraries were high on my list. Book stores. Restaurants, so many different restaurants. My church. Certainly, my church. It’s almost impossible to believe they are all temporarily absent. Those closures are my personal list of happy places. The times are tougher than that, though. Schools and colleges closed. Non-essential businesses. Thousands are out of jobs because of all the closures. Over a million in the US have become ill, 80,000 plus have died, and we’re still seeing new cases.
Linda and I feel blessed. We’re together in our comfortable home. Because we are retirees, our income hasn’t been eliminated as it has for many. We’re healthy. So much of what we most like to do is bes done at home. We are readers, dreamers, and writers. We have time, space, an almost embarrassing storehouse of office supplies, and our extensive home library.
I once joked with Linda that, if for some bizarre reason we couldn’t bring any new books into our home, we’d still be set for life. There are all the books we’ve meant to get around to reading. There are those that are favorites and well worth reading again. Finally, there are those read before and forgotten. They would seem new all over again.
Mason Cooley, an American professor and noted aphorist says, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” Our library will give us wings while we nest at home.
Today’s never-before world is baffling. More confusing than my struggles with technology in the 1980s. There are no clear guides on this journey, for nothing like this has occurred since the 1918 Spanish Flu. But, with tools I couldn’t have imagined in the 80s–Google, Zoom, Facebook and Facetime, email, texting, and messaging—I’ll read, and think, write … and stay connected with friends electronically. I can’t run away so I’ll hunker down happily.
I’ll also hope you find these words to read.
Thanks Amory, we are the fortunate ones in that our life is set with Homes Books income and friends. I wonder that our world is so fragile.it is a pleasure to read your blog.
We are the fortunate ones! I try to keep in mind those for whom this is a terrible struggle. Thanks for reading!
Great job, Amory! We are on the same page in so many ways: stage of life, outlook, probably even many of the same books.
When I think about my challenging struggle with all things computer, I marvel at the teachers who had to immediately adapt to online teaching. Thanks for reading!
Thank you Amory. I Love your Blog and your perspective
Thank you! I love doing the writing and it’s good to know that my words touch others.
“ Today’s never-before world is baffling.” I love your use of words that cause me to pause and ponder. Dumbfoundness. And baffling. Today these words in the context of your blog post gave me reason for gratitude on several levels. I’m grateful for the spaciousness of these days. Space in which to embrace the not knowing. Thank you, Amory.
Spaciousness. That’s the word I’m going to think about now. We’re not “locked in,” we are set free in a new way. Set free to pause and ponder. Thanks for reading, thanks for responding!
An “almost embarrassing storehouse of office supplies”?? 🙂 Even if you run out of books to read, you two could probably write, edit, print, and bind your own stories with the trove of goodies you have there in your nest!
So happy you have become comfortable with technology in the past few decades! Seeing you and Linda and the other “boat ladies” via Zoom these past few weeks has brought a semblance of normalcy and comfort.
When we can no longer run, we can find peace and comfort within. Keep writing!
Grabbing moments (or, exactly 40 Zoom minutes) of normalcy is such a balm. Thanks for the writing affirmation. I appreciate that from one who writes so well.
Lovely blog. I love the comparison to the confusing newness of computers and the internet, and hearing about your new daily routines.
Thank you! It means a good deal to me when a writer writes about my writing.
A thoughtful look at this confusing time. I’m happy to learn that others feel blessed with their embarrassing warehouse of office supplies. I didn’t worry about t.p. when this started, but I did buy a couple new pens and several new journals. Blessed be.
We are, indeed, more than well stocked with pens, paper, etc. Problem is that we still are attracted to a “perfect” pen, or a “just right” journal. The storehouse keeps getting new stock. Thanks for reading and responding.
I still find the world of computers somewhat confusing. But even more so is my exile in the place I called home for over twenty-five years.
I never thought that exile would apply to my life. It is staggering to think through all that has meant/means. Thanks for reading and posting!
New to your blog, so going through your list of posts Amory I immediately got hooked on this one…Ahh Nina. Have you ever heard someone sing like Nina Simone? Maybe you have, but I haven’t – and that piano! Her talent, character, chutzpa, Life (it sure was not an easy one). Although a bit later than Josephine Baker (Nina 20 years or so younger) their lives ran in parallels. Born in Jim Crow lands, they escaped to New York to find their artistic expressions, steeped in the civil rights movement, they challenged the abject racially charged system all the way before finally finding some comfort and acceptance in Europe. Nina’s music is as relevant today as it was in the sixties…“Mississippi Goddam” (no offense to Mississippians – refers to a culture of racial oppression). And, with the covid limitations on our lives today one can relate to “I ain’t got no…I got life” (it lifts the Spirit watching her sing this on You Tube, filmed in 60’s black & white). Oh, and Amory – Nina came from a Methodist family…got to love that huh?
Lance, I love that my post got you deep into all your feelings about Nina Simone. And Josephine Baker. About the fact there’s such a thing as Youtube where we can still hear/watch these magical singers.