C.S. Lewis had a good quote about boredom but I can’t remember how it goes.
I’m full of ideas about shit to make in quarantine. The real attraction of it doesn’t seem to be just about the amount of time I now have since the world has slowed down, but also I want to contribute to the necessary remaking of the world. The other side of this panic is not going to be the same world that we have lived in for all of my life. There will be similarities, but I believe the differences will be striking. The opportunities to create something important for that new world are multiplying with each day this panic drags on.
I’ve been advocating for people to dress in masks like superheroes for a while, but never imagined that a public health crisis would usher in that culture in 2020. You might never go to a supermarket again without a mask on. The whole thing may blow over for sure, but within a month we have gone from the CDC, the Surgeon General, and the WHO saying that wearing a mask has no benefit and should not be done unless you are Covid-positive, to mandating it by law. There’s a viral video of police officers in Philly pulling a man off of a bus for not wearing a mask. Apparently the Schnucks supermarket in my town is requiring masks in order to shop. I have seen more and more people come into the coffeeshop wearing a mask. When I deliver pizzas right now, I have been wearing a mask at every stop.
We are all part of an experiment to create a new world. This has always been the case, but it’s much more prescient right now, and people have time to reflect on their purpose. It’s like the “essential” and “non-essential” thing. Suddenly, everyone is wondering how critical their existence is — have we ever verbalized it in such stark terms? You are not essential. Let that sink in.
I can’t remember much of what I learned as a “theologian” but there was always something about how God is up there and we are down here. There is a bold and dark line that will never be broached by us, by our own volition. We are not essential to God, until he says that we are essential — which is the point that we are saved. And this is never by our own merit, our “essentiality” (essence?) is because he said so. Otherwise, how could we, the tiny not-omnipotent created, ever become essential to the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end who has existed since before time began. It’s fun to talk about God because you can say things that otherwise would sound like nonsense — the time before time began. I think our brains are really small, but I think our brains connect our soul to a vast network of spiritual experience not bound by space or time.
(This is what happens when you run a theologian out of the church and let him experiment with psychedelic drugs.)
We can feel incredible things happening around us, in the midst of this crisis. We can feel that the worst and best impulses of humanity are coming to the forefront. We will all have to come to grips with our greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses if we are going to get through this. Don’t forget: He uses the weak to shame the strong.
The crashed-and-burned shall inherit the earth.
In times like these, it’s obvious that society has crashed and burned. The moment that boredom becomes creativity is when you admit that you, as an individual, have crashed and burned too. Then it’s time to rebuild your world with empathy and grace.