Homeschool, unschooled, private schooled, public schooled, religious schooled, military schooled, BOCES. I have seen them all. In my humble opinion, the single most important thing that shaped all of these kids from disparate school experiences, for better or worse, was the engagement of their parents and/or caregivers. That more than anything made a difference to the mental and spiritual health of a young adult, Someone who really, really cared, and showed it.
I was discussing with a fellow fan of theater and concerts how we will be experiencing live events and movies in the Age of Covid. I was extolling the virtues of the drive-in, preparing to perform in the Colony Beer Garden, and being optimistic about incorporating protocols like distancing, hygiene, etc. “It’s just not going to be the same,” she said. I said: “To quote Barack Obama, ‘Don’t let good be the enemy of perfect.’ To which I would add, don’t even let mediocre be the enemy of perfect at this point.”
“This was once dense, dark hemlock forest. For millennia, sacred ground where the indigenous hunted, but would not live. Tanneries came in the mid-nineteenth century, cut ‘em all down, used the bark to tan leather, fouled the streams, didn’t replant. They put themselves out of business by the twentieth century, left a big mess. Not the sharpest tools in the shed. Thanks to Mother Nature and the state, it all bounced back within a decade, and the modern Catskills tourism industry was born. Which is sort of where you and I come in.”
The act of processing a deluge of information, most of it stressful, elongates time perception. It’s an evolutionary tic. Our brains are wired to take in more information when we’re stressed, so that if and when we’re in similar danger again, we’ll have copious information to keep us from perishing on the savannah. The aperture widens.
In this man’s presence, I was able to believe the musician life I’d long envisioned, of fans, tours, and some kind of stardom, was still possible, even as I entered my mid-thirties. My friend and I worked diligently towards that fantasy. Tapping into his will was intoxicating.
Clearly, all hackers are, to a degree, sociopaths. Some more blind to other people’s emotional lives than others. My vigilant nature, combined with my innate, ever-sharper curiosity, wants to look them in the eye, hear how they talk, register them in my mind’s impregnable database.
We had arrived early, in the gloaming, so I got out to stretch and look around at the hundred or so audience members, not all of them families. An unspoken sense of community pervaded the dusk, lots of waving at faraway strangers to whom we now felt more connected. The distinctive ambiance of crowd sound – usually a common aspect of modern life, in malls, theaters, restaurants, clubs, etc. – was intoxicating.
Before the pandemic I would have thought my height – six foot two on a good day – and other factors like my gait, my clothes, my hairdo, my glasses, would be enough to identify me to all acquaintances and friends, but apparently not. Simply covering my mouth and nose is enough to render me virtually invisible to some. To a significant sector, I am suddenly a stranger.
In the case of Stevie Nicks, I was making real time contact with someone whose music occupies a dreamscape where intense and potentially uncontrollable emotions reside, impulses I govern with the social skills I’ve learned, everything from erotic fascination, to romantic longing, to nostalgia-in-amber for hazy, glorious days. Would I retain my control upon meeting the source?
How did the earthlings of Ad Astra deal with the warming planet, the rising sea levels? Viruses? Sectarian conflict? Worldwide poverty, uneducated women, racism? Food? How do folks get around? Surely not with fossil fuel. Is there a middle class again? Social media? What’s the economy like? Where do people work? When and how did earth citizens learn to be proper stewards of our planet? What story motivated this lifesaving, planet-saving action?