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Ronaissance: Renewal in the Time of COVID-19

Updated: Jul 16, 2022

Archived in the Library of Congress, 2020.

COVID-19 has singlehandedly upended the year 2020 for millions of individuals across the world. Its effects will reverberate for years to come. I will not dwell upon the malfeasance and under-preparedness shown by some of our leadership. It has, and will continue to have, a cost. I venerate the brutal, beautiful work of our responsible leaders, scientists, healthcare workers, food workers, sanitation workers, transportation/logistics workers, educators, and others; they are our rarely acknowledged Atlases to whom we owe a perpetual debt. Upon delayed initiation of protective practices in the United States, a dark undercurrent of fear was unleashed. I have not been alone in seeking talismans against it. Each day, I have seized upon gratitude, acknowledged the pain, and relinquished cynicism.

When you’re living in a literal lockdown, it’s easy to feel trapped and discouraged. My family and friends have been holding me up, loving me through the lulls and panics. Humor has been emphasized as one of the best forms of connective tissue at this time. In a conversation with someone dear to me and far away from me, the term “ronaissance” emerged. It came after singing and jesting and took its time asserting its weight. It went from joke to handy philosophical tool in less than ten minutes. I had rolled my eyes along with everyone else at hoax tweets documenting the thriving of nature in the absence of humans bent on capitalism. I couldn’t help it; it was my smug New Yorker coming out. The Earth could use a break but requiring a pandemic to facilitate that meant every worst thing I assumed about humans was true. On any other day, in any other circumstance, I would be on my soapbox talking about how it was corporations that really bore the bulk responsibility for degrading our environment, not individuals. In my mind, it was proof that we just couldn’t help ourselves. I’m flat wrong.

This is our opportunity to reevaluate what is ours to do and renew the bonds of community. In this time, I have been reminded that (as I always say in defense) New Yorkers aren’t always just smug or harried, they are also resilient and kind. Our resilience, in fact, has been a weakness in the prior weeks — we rarely believe anything can stop the show. It is my hope that we will revert this resilience into strength. Those who know me are aware that I am deeply spiritual but also very clear-eyed about the workings of power structures. It is my belief that we can take this pain and respect it to the fullest extent, allowing it to metamorphose and create.

A well-respected feeling is a catalyst. Watching and feeling this unfold has brought hurt. Being in this time has brought hurt. Having faith in this time hurts. I respect it and allow myself to feel an overwhelming sense of commitment to transformation. This transformation has prerequisites, not the least of which is a continual awareness of connection to Source. The radiating attachments to other beings that hurriedness allowed us to ignore are tugging on us, urging consideration. The trust in our communities can be rebuilt. We can help ourselves, heal ourselves. I am choosing to unlearn much of what I thought I knew about myself in relation to others. I am choosing to pause when I feel fear, knowing that being able to conceptualize fear normally means I am not in immediate danger. Much fear requires safety. I am choosing to let anxious thoughts float into the non-existent future they belong to. I am choosing to prioritize the well-being of myself, and, by extension, those I am connected to. I am choosing to sort what is real, what is projection. I am choosing the possibilities I want to believe in and co-create. I am choosing renewal.

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