Archive for August, 2014

Plagued

Our creative arts and re/up-cycling business is called Six Degrees because we really do see everything, in art, science or society (the universe really) as being inextricably connected.

Because the world is connected, because the bell tolls for me (and you), I said a prayer for Dr. Brantley and Ms. Writbol when I read that they were fighting Ebola in Libera and became infected with the disease. When I said that prayer, I had read that they could receive better care if they were flown out of the country, but that was unlikely because it was difficult to find people willing to transfer and accept them. My vague thought of where they might go (should they be allowed to go anywhere) was France or Germany, maybe because Europe is a little closer and some other international situations resulted in preliminary care in Europe before citizens returned to the US. I said that prayer before I learned that they were flying into my back yard.

I’m not doing a lot of reading right now or keeping up with news very well. I don’t know why I came across the article. When I learned that Brantly and Writebol were flying into Dobbins ARB, I thought about my temporary apartment under the runway approach. I can feel the vibration when the C5’s are coming in.

My 6 degrees of separation from a far away situation was quickly halved. When Ebola moves to your city, you very quickly think of how many handshakes are between you and the emergency response workers at Emory and the CDC. The distance shortens in different directions as well. I have friends who are pilots. Now that un-quarantined victims have made it on to international flights, they also have a level of risk that’s higher than it was before. I’ve been keeping up with the news pretty well these last few days. I don’t mind admitting that it has my attention on a different level now that it is so much closer to people I gave birth to.

There has been the occasional good-humored joke, but most of my connections on social media have been fairly quiet about the subject. Perhaps it is close enough to inspire a little loss of speech, or maybe there is some healthy respect for the situation. Maybe it’s more likely that I’ve just filtered my feed to my own personal taste.

On my NPR FB feed, there was an interesting post about Camus’ The Plague. I read the comments. someone accused the author of being over simplistic in their interpretation of Camus’ message. People are so prone to argue about Camus. They put him in categories, like existentialism, where he himself said he did not belong. I’ve only read the English translations, but I troubled myself to get the ones that troubled themselves to be very accurate rather than interpretive and it seems to me that Camus is pretty good at saying just what he means. I’ll come back to that.

It’s been a stressful few weeks. Life has been charging at us from every direction. Yesterday I spent 5 frustrating hours trying to do a ten minute job and then the day just kept on giving. I knew that organization would be crucial to us trying to move into the house quickly, but we’ve been trying so hard to step up the pace that it’s hard to put the time into organization, and the lack thereof is having it’s effect. Trying to learn ten or more new skills in a short period is enough to hold in your brain and there are the complications beyond our control. When someone returns a pneumatic nailer to Home Depot jammed and it goes back out on the floor to be resold still jammed, it is a risk and a delay that cost us another evening of work because the one we chose wasn’t in stock at any of the first three places we checked. We’ve had weeks of similar delays.

But there’s always perspective for anyone who cares to look. As of today, my problem is that I’d like a place to live that’s in the right school district, one that holds my stuff and my people, one that is clean, functional, up to code, has floor coverings and allows me to get back to my 6 Degrees work. You know, first world problems. And while I’m trying to keep all of this in my head and make a little progress I’m distracted by “The Plague”. It’s been a few years since I last read the book, but I found it inspirational, not depressing. Here’s a quote from the NPR post that shows why.

Of course, the answer isn’t always the one we want. But if Camus teaches us anything, it’s that even when tragedy is inevitable we have no choice but to look for that meaning and to find it in one another.
Just when it looks like the plague will destroy the entire city of Oran, it recedes, though not before it’s killed countless residents. Dr. Rieux manages to live through it; several of his friends aren’t so lucky. As Dr. Rieux says, of the plague’s survivors, “For some time, anyhow, they would be happy. They knew now that if there is one thing one can always yearn for and sometimes attain, it is human love.”

To yearn for and sometimes attain human love, that’s what connects us all. Whether your problems are life threatening or just so completely frustrating that you’re at wit’s end, even after the plague, there is the capacity and the desire to love. The world is indeed a beautiful place.