How de we repurpose the artful for a pandemic world?

’trōv n [alter. of trove (discovery, find)] (2010): a collection of artful objects discovered or found

One more Covid-19-driven closure pulled me up short, and sad: Trohv, on the Avenue in Hampden. This closure has sent me down a rabbit-hole of reflection on Stuff. How I’ll miss browsing and selecting just-the-right-gift for any occasion. Gifted Stuff, Treasured Stuff, Accumulated Stuff. And my own life as a consumer Supporting the Economy, which the US Government  promoted as a civic responsibility to pull us out of the Great Recession of 2008 and since then to  keep the American economic engine humming.

It’s not the first time I have thought about a re-purposed economy

What might come after a consumer economy? In the past I have often, if vaguely, daydreamed about how we could change society for the better. By designing Stuff to last. By liberating our energies from dreaming up and producing and buying Stuff, spawning acres of self-storage units and endless Sundays of garage sales.  

By instead becoming skilled at taking care of one another, in sickness and in health, from birth to death. By valuing labor.  By building human-scale environments designed with green spaces. By educating skilled artisans, gardeners, tenders of all kinds. By elevating community-building to the art and science it can be. By shifting our national measure of success from GDP to measures like social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption, and GDP – as set forth in an annual report on happiness issued by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 

But in August of 2020, in the 24th week of the pandemic by my personal calendar, this is no longer simply a speculative exercise. And it is quite personal.

It got me thinking about re-purposing my life

As I wander around my house, I can see that as far as Stuff goes, it is pieces of furniture, baskets and bowls that are the repurposed items: containers of all sorts. I have moved stuff around for years from one container to another. Books, family heirlooms, bottles of herbs, craft supplies, research papers-forever-waiting-to-be-read.

My life is a container that has been filled with Sara content of one sort or another, a collection of artful objects discovered and found.

Am I ready to be re-purposed for an unknown world?

The world is different. I will be continuing to investigate for some time the ways that is true, and what that asks of me.

This in-between time can be anxiety-provoking, and vision and imagination-provoking.

Unquestionably honesty and kindness-provoking.

My time? My energies? My financial resources? My mind? My feelings?

What am I doing with what I have at my disposal to shift things in my corner of the world?

The creativity and humor and artful eye and attention to artisan cultivation and customer care that went into creating the Trohv experience…that creativity will take some other life-supporting form. 

I have to trust that the same is true for me. And for you.

I just wanna pull the covers over my head

“I just wanna pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep.” For years I have used this as a throw-away line.

Last Friday I actually tried it for the first time. Ever.

At 11:00 in the morning.

Care to lay odds on the outcome?

I had tried to get on with the day and overcome a funk of over-wroughtness.

I had read the Wash Post headlines, which featured the Occupant’s lead balloon of a proposal that the presidential election should be postponed; a large graphic of the tanked economy; and Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton speaking at the funeral service of John Lewis. The text of this last article noted that Obama spoke from the pulpit where Martin Luther King had preached.

I had wrestled with with what was going on with me in my current writing project: the more I tried to be clear and specific, the less I felt I was writing in my own voice. After an hour of practice, all I knew was that I was on to a subtle and troublesome knot.

A light drizzle that had ended a record-breaking 25-day heatwave brought no relief to the thick air.

So my body and my brain were both way overheated.

I headed for the bedroom, the one room in the house that was cool.

As I pulled the covers up over my head, a window AC unit whirred along

But every time I drifted off, I found myself in another anxiety dream.

At one o’clock I threw the covers off and wandered back into the livingroom.

I picked up my phone and began to scroll through emails, felt queasy and put it down.

It was another hour before I had anything to eat.

Rescued by getting ready for Shabbos

Finally at 4:00 I turned to another strategy: cleaning. Because I like to go into Shabbos with a clean and orderly house. An hour of being able to exert control over my immediate environment calmed me a bit. The aerobic side energized me a bit.

But the funk still had hold of me.

How had it gotten to be Friday again already?

Six days of the week have become interchangeable and increasingly indeterminate.

But what really turned me around was overhearing my next-door neighbor’s afternoon outing with his dog.

Dan had brought Tawney outside for a late-afternoon poop.

Tawney is a beautiful Giant Boxer, maybe 7 years old. 

He has Parkinson’s and has been progressively losing function in his back legs since last September. He has not lost his delightful disposition, his playfulness, or the strength of his “upper body.” Twice a day, Dan helps Tawney down the front steps and around to the back yard, using a long sturdy sling to support his hind quarters. And Dan talks to him, encourages him along. Dan does this with every step Tawney takes. Every day. Twice a day.

At that hour, I took Dan’s encouragement to Tawney as my own. With gratitude, restored to sanity,
and a bit more in touch with my own stamina.