MEDITATIONS IN AN EMERGENCY

MEDITATIONS IN AN EMERGENCY

By Catherine Spinley

When Ashli reached out to me to write a piece for The Sunday Issue I replied enthusiastically, “Yes!” I specialize in beauty content and I fully planned on staying in that zone. Surely I've had lots of time to be my own beauty guinea pig lately. It would have been easy to write something about a quarantine glow-up, sure, but when I sat down to write, I really felt like just being honest.

I’ve opined about loneliness before (probably right here on the Sunday Issue) and mental health (again, on these here pages), but the past 3 weeks have been a lesson in exercising a lot of the skills I’ve taught myself to do to keep both things at bay:  knowing when to turn off the news, knowing when to close my work laptop, knowing when I need a workout and when to let myself sleep that extra hour. I feel like I’ve been training for being alone for a long time. In fact, now that most of my friends and family are experiencing lockdown, I connect with them more than ever.  And, I kind of like it. I’ve promised myself that when this is over, I will strive to maintain those ties. I will pick up the phone rather than text a witty GIF. I will check in on people. I will go slowly and carefully.

And, this will be over. All of us will be changed forever, although to varying degrees.

via Catherine Spinley

I have these big windows in my apartment and I’m so grateful for them. Yes, it sounds stupid and trite but I stare out of them all day long and think about how protected I am. How all around me there are sirens and people who are scared and people who are making sacrifices and people without choices - who just go on with their daily routines because they have to. They just have to.  And I am the beneficiary of those actions. There are heroes, expected and accidental, celebrated and unrecognized, and they are all around me. All around us.

Today I took a lunchtime walk by the river. It was so warm and sunny, a cloudless sky; as if things were perfect here in New York. The magnificent cherry blossom trees guided me on my way. As I reached the harbor I sat in the warmth of the sun and looked across to Jersey City. On the steel railing there is an engraved quote: “One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes-I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a radio store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life,” which is from a poem titled, “Meditations in An Emergency,” by Frank O’Hara.

I’ve passed this railing and read this sentence thousands of times, but today it meant more to me than ever before. This is where I belong. I have all I need. I am so lucky. Because it really is just luck, straight-forward probability that keeps me healthy. 

Yes, it sounds stupid and trite but I stare out of them all day long and think about how protected I am. How all around me there are sirens and people who are scared and people who are making sacrifices and people without choices - who just go on with their daily routines because they have to. 

As I returned home (those work emails lurked), I passed a mother and her son enjoying lunch while playing a game of chess, bleach wipes next to their lunch bags, as if things were perfect here in New York. 

And, I was so happy our game of make-believe got us through another day.