Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: What can I to to live now, while I still can?
From the associated meditation, Marcus Aurelius: “As long as you live and while you can, become good now.” One of the phrases I keep hearing from the anti-mask crowd and those who are protesting the restrictions is that they just want to “live their lives.” In other words, they want to focus purely on their own wants and needs, and they are confused as to why the rights of the individual do not override the concerns of society. Implicit in this is the idea that if things can’t be like they’ve always been, then they’re not “living their lives.” And again, I come back around to the things I know about history–particularly WW2, where we have so many details of what so many people went through in a war that lasted six full years. Here in North America, where the war never really came to our soil–at least sparing us physical destruction–the sacrifices were still significant, both in sending people to fight and tend to those who fought, to take on new jobs to help the war effort, to go without due to rationing. Few people got new cars during the war years (new models stopped being made) due to those industries being turned over to manufacturing tanks, planes, ships, and military vehicles. Construction of new buildings stopped, because the metal and other materials were needed elsewhere. In England, although the war did not come directly to their soil, they certainly were bombed and constantly under threat. And then we get to the countries where the war actually came. What did ordinary people do? I’m sure some of them griped, at first, about how horrible it was for them that they couldn’t just go buy the food they wanted, or had to put up blackout curtains or go down to air raid shelters. But it certainly became clear at this point that this was the life they got, and whining about the hand that they were dealt as if they were unique got them nowhere. No, you found the little bits of humanity to cling to. Music was a constant almost everywhere you went–whether it was over the radio, or small groups of friends, or performances of orchestras in defiance of sieges. You cherished your friends and family, knowing that they–or you–could be gone the next day. You wrote letters. You planted victory gardens. And when it was all done, you looked around you at who had survived, you told the stories of those who had not, and then you found a way forward. But you never stopped “living life.”
This is why creativity has been my lifeline during the pandemic. I can spend a week, like I am now, doing silly creative tasks with a small team of others, who, even though I can’t see them in person, I feel united with towards a common end. This IS my life. I feel privileged that I can spend so much time reading, or embroidering, or writing, or sewing, or listening to music, and keeping up a connection with friends I miss terribly. Would I rather it be like it was one year ago? Where looking forward into 2020, I had months of concerts and travel planned, and events to go to, people to see? Yes. But it isn’t. Maybe it will be like that again. But if I’m still stuck in what I could have had, I will never have what I can have.
SMASH day 6:
Two videos today (which I will not upload as they’ll eat up storage space)–one demonstrating wire weaving, one playing “I Think We’re Alone Now” on the viola. Also completed: A Mary Rose-style quiver, a fabric plague doctor mask (that’s also a legit three-layer filter mask) and the largesse boxes. And in between projects, Pathfinder, where we managed to knock out some rather nasty dragons and cultists, heal some kobolds, and we just met up again with our shady archaeologist frenemy, who seems like he’s about to loot a temple.