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  • Writer's pictureJulia Lee Barclay-Morton

The art of now knowing

photo from a few days ago in self-isolation sun


The art of now knowing - no I am not good at it.

I am writing this, trying to write this and probably going to have to take a nap after a paragraph in the middle of having COVID-19. I have not been tested, because I live in NYC and there are people dying in hospitals right now and the tests are primarily for health care workers or those at risk of hospitalization. But I have had most of the symptoms, dry cough, fever that spiked to 100.8, and now no sense of smell and little sense of taste. The cough is now productive, and the fever went down a couple days ago.

In the parlance of the times, I am on Day 7 of being symptomatic. Called the hotline, told to stay home rest etc. Called doc office told the same. And of course self-isolate. Another sign of the times.

Where do we begin the irony machine? What self-respecting sober or drunk alcoholic writer doesn't like to self-isolate? But of course when it's a rule? Hmmmm. But with this, no big deal. Because I don't want anyone else to get it.

But this is not a recitation of these facts, or it's not meant to be. This is me wanting to write about the larger implications of COVID and the Virus. That has Gone Viral. That.

This invisible to the eye force that has connected everyone in the globe and wiped out the entirety of whatever anyone expected to happen in 2020. I mean certain things might still happen, but none of them will be the same. Most things now happen on Zoom or other teleconferencing software, or some other virtual way. Anyone defying this and going outside and pretending all is well incurs the wrath of those who are trying to do the right thing, so even the 'try to act normal' crowd is not normal.

And then too this: no one knows what happens next.

No one.

Literally. No one.

The amount we don't know about this virus, and the impact its impact will have on this country, all the other countries and in lives great and small, is basically everything.

There are guesses. I have been diagnosed with COVID over the phone, but have not had a test. Just that fact for starters, but it's tiny in comparison.

I had something big coming up in the fall that appears to have come to a screeching halt. I don't know why nor have I been told this, only radio silence. At first I thought it was because the other person involved was in COVID hotspot, but now so am I. I asked, but that didn't elicit a response. I have lots of guesses and fears and unfounded assumptions as to why. And for a while it was driving me crazy. But then—and this is when I realized the enormity of the COVID impact—I let it go. Because I saw this thing that was so important to me—and still is—in the context of all this and saw clearly…no, you can't hold onto that. And it was a huge relief.

I saw that aside from all the economic impacts and of course the losses of life, which is the biggest loss of all, this is the ask from the age of Corona:

Let go of everything you think you know.

Let go of all your expectations. Let go of all the ways you thought the future would look. All your stories. All your plans. Let them go. All of them.

Then see what comes up next.

This is a global tsunami. Yes, definitely try to take cover, find somewhere safe to ride out the bracing impact. But don't think you can control it. Because you can't.

And again when I saw this and felt this down to my bones, I felt so peaceful. Something large enough has happened that I need to give up all my little plans and schemes. Because they are pointless.

Probably they always have been, but now they are for sure.

All I can do. All any of us can do is breathe, stay as healthy as possible, if healthy try to help those more vulnerable, be there for each other, be kind to people we are stuck in quarantine with (which can be challenging, because it's hard), check up on each other, and learn how to Zoom (or equivalent).

Then be open. See if you can allow what is next to emerge.

I don't mean this in a passive way, but simply a receptive way. Instead of trying to fit the new reality into an old story grid, which has been wiped away, see where you are. Understand that it's somewhere new. Don't assume you know anything about it.

Explore. See how you can fit into this new reality, how help create it.

[and now I need to nap.]


This is the next day. I am going to post this as is. Even though it's not perfect. Including the typo that opens it.

The art of now knowing.

It should have read not knowing.

But it amounts to the same thing, and is harder.

Now knowing. Which is total surrender. To what is unfolding and is totally out of my control.

That level of awake is where I strive to be.

Am I always? Hahahahaha. No.

But I do try.

And then there is this: there may be new and better things I can do. All of us can do that survive this. Maybe there is a whole new world to create. Maybe we get to be part of that. Maybe it's more just and more sustainable.

But right now, yep, I need another nap.

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Apr 05, 2020

So, entirely unexpected, in re: mantra. How do you feel about a ragtime blues interp of your transcendental axiom? I mean, you could make it into a surreal vaudeville tap dance even. But that’s the thrust of your blog post too, ain’t it? Reminds me of some old underground comix, particularly Zap, where every other artist was like nothing before it and every story was an adventure into text an image that could go from funny pictures into elliptical orbits that turned hyperbolic and came back to land in Baba Ram Dass coming out of Mr. Natural or the Checkered Demon. And the essence of it would come back to just the simplest of actions. After the Owww and WOW…

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