The Wasteland

People are more confused than scared in the rural west. As COVID 19 spreads and the quarantine becomes more serious, many are trying to figure out what’s going on. Groceries and gas stations are still open, along with the liquor store. Restaurants are doing take out. Things are alive under the surface of this frozen world – people are finding ways to escape the paralysis.

Empty shelves in every grocery store. Strange how people express fear & panic. There are still full baskets of oranges & avocados, and anything gluten free is still available. There’s no meat or milk left, no toilet paper, no bottled water.

And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you
I will show you fear in a handful of dust

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

The streets are empty. An occasional single human walking in the dusk. The cattle trucks are running down the highway, the trains still roll the tracks. I look at social media; a whirlwind of opinion & self promotion even as the media falters juggling bits of incomplete information. I look at the world outside & it seems still – more quiet than normal, as if reflected in ice.

Still snow above 8000 feet, and it’s still winter in the west. The last icey finger has followed me from Colorado to Utah, chilling my bones and waking me up to another morning of snow. The cold and desolations mirror the empty streets in town.

Rather than fear, I feel a sense of wonder at the strangeness of the world. Both because and in spite of COVID 19, the world is reborn, reimagined; the light casts different shadows. I haven’t had to use my voice much – silence is engulfing me, the distance between people ever greater as language fails and words fall out of thin air, muffled by a thin blanket of snow. The world is whole, outside, caressed by rushing wind… I’ll follow that wind to the end, into the canyon and across the Basin, asking for its truth.

Nothing nothing nothing.

What am I doing here has become a prescient question – more essential than existential. It’s a time to question my motivations, looking for what this journey can uncover both internally and in the world I move through.

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