The Mind is My Salvation

Guess who’s got Grandpa’s sense of the absurd

John Clark pondering in these absurd and scary times. Nothing like feeling as though you’re stuck in bastard love child movie birthed by Bergman and Fellini. Early morning grocery shopping had me imagining I was an actor in a revised Doors musical video of Strange Days. Hannaford in Waterville offered a 6-7 AM time slot to senior citizens and others at risk. However, the store was more crowded than at any time I’ve been in there in months, so I’m not sure it was any better. It was interesting to study other shoppers. Almost every woman was wearing some form of gloves and many had masks. The men slouched, had nothing on their hands (most were in their pockets) and had looks on their faces that were somewhere between annoyance and deer in the headlights. Thankfully, we’re currently well grocered, but the squirrels in our back yard better be on their toes if there’s a meat shortage. I don’t know about others, but this Covid-19 phenomenon seems like a summer sunset in that it creeps ever so slowly until you shake your head and realize it’s real, it’s gonna be here for a lot longer than anyone imagined even a few weeks ago and the fact is that government, even if we had competent leadership, is ill equipped to deal with something so pervasive.

Beth is committed to going to Belgrade 5 days a week to care for 5 month old Reid. With school closed, that means six year old Piper is home, while Sara is working from home and Russ, who’s a maintenance worker/carpenter at Colby, is working 20 hours a week. It took a week or so, but I’m in the ‘avoid as many people as possible’ choir now. While my mind never left my twenties, my body is 72 and could be a sitting duck for this virus. Staying at home all day is a foreign experience.

I had a number of civic commitments arranged and every one was canceled. I completed training so I could go into the Somerset County Jail once a month to talk to inmates about recovery, The annual Hartland-Saint Albans Lions Literacy fair, an event I love because more than 150 kids attend and go home with books, is off until 2021, Likewise the Jobs For Maine Graduates Career Development Conference, an event that hundreds of high school students bust their tails to prepare for. The Alfond Center in Waterville is closed until who knows when and that wiped out 5 mornings of swimming and several miles of walking on the track. I know I’m whining, but I don’t handle multiple changes well. Then there’s AA and NA meetings. After almost 40 years of going to them, all the face to face ones are on hold. I’ll survive, but those who are new in sobriety are going to have a very tough time staying that way.

Libraries are closed and I can tell you the stress of seeing patrons go without their needs is starting to surface in the Maine library community online. Fortunately, many of the folks who can’t go to work at their library are doing as much virtually as possible. I’m amazed at the hard work both members of the library and the education communities have done to identify and share online educational resources with patrons and students. In a time where we’re dismayed by stories of greed and hoarding, they, along with publishers and purveyors of online databases, have stripped fees and restrictions from many resources so those homebound by the virus can access stuff.

The weather is about to ameliorate things a bit. It will be warm enough to rake, prune and start seeds. While I’m worried about the Fedco tree sale being canceled (we want raspberries, grapes and a couple pear trees). Right now it’s still on (Friday & Saturday, May 8-9, 9:00am-3:00pm at 213 Hinckley Rd., Clinton, ME.) If it comes to mail ordering, so be it. I have a vast assortment of veggie and flower seeds. With our cellar now insulated, it’s warm enough to start a lot of things down there.

There’s also the fact that, while Bullmoose may have closed their stores, I can still order from them online, so book deprivation isn’t an issue. I’m also wading through another treasure trove of classical sheet music I picked up at a library book sale. That’s going on ebay and I’m learning about obscure composers while I’m at it.

Life will go on, we’ll all get through somehow and when you’re feeling those squirrels in your head getting too frisky, think about calling someone who might appreciate you getting in touch with them. I’m also curious about what’s surprised you during this pandemic…things you reacted to more strongly, or that you never realized.

I leave you with a link to a great song done here by Tom Rush that sums up life in times like this.

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4 Responses to The Mind is My Salvation

  1. Anonymous says:

    Making the best of a bad situation is good advice, John.

  2. Really good piece, John. I think that you have expressed what so many people are feeling. For Clif and me, two introverts, it hasn’t been that bad. Home is the center for us. To borrow from a blogging friend: For us, home is not only a place to live and grow, but it is also the base from which we launch ourselves and our ideas. And, let me say, having the Internet is a big, big help. Makes us feel ever so much less isolated.

  3. Pat Turnbull says:

    As to what has surprised you: I am not particularly musical and rarely go to concerts except the occasional one featuring Celtic folk music. So I have been very surprised at my emotional response to the hymns and other religious music the choir director and others from my church have posted on YouTube and FB. Apparently I need to hear these songs of hope and old favorites in these trying times.

  4. Jane Searles says:


    You put into words my exact reactions to the new temporary we are living in now. Deer in headlights is the expression I used the first time I experienced panic buying by very frightened people and that was two weeks ago.

    The sociologist in me had to stand back and take it all in, just unbelievable. At 67 I’ve seen Mainers buy too much before a blizzard, an occasional hurricane, holiday shopping but the fear was palpable this time, never experienced anything like it before.

    I wonder now the impact not just on the economy but society, we have not been tested like this during a pandemic since 1918 and information was limited but with social media, sometimes too much. On the plus side facts that creates empowerment because knowledge means power to make choices. Although there seem to be enough people who still believe there is nothing to this, just a common cold. I had a local physical therapist say as much and did not return to that practice.

    Anyway hunkering down, as an introvert down time is fine with me and staying in touch with family and friends.

    I have a very healthy 35 year old nephew who works in Portland as a respiratory therapist so we are concerned for him, right in the middle of it.

    Thanks, John

    I’m sure we’ll be back soon in the pool with great quips from you!

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