When I was a kid, they used to make those massive Rand McNally maps of the United States.
Morning. The rising sun promised another hot day, humid and full of sweat.
For thousands of years, human beings have perfected the art of symbology and communication. To survive the onslaught of natural chaos and evolution, we have created masterpieces of oral and written stories and histories that share our valuable wealth of knowledge with each other as we learn, grow, and find our Self. While some narratives have generated a massive amount of friction towards one another, others have delivered peace, prosperity, and a sense of hope. However negative or positive, one thing is certain: literature and the art of storytelling is powerful – the pen is mightier than the sword.
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has left many people stranded and confused. The sudden change of daily routines and habits have created discord, angry tones, and a fear of social contact and proximity. People wander timidly in grocery stores with facemasks and concerned looks over empty shelves of paper products, staple foods, and their wallets. Jobs have been erased (based on TradingEconomics.com, the percentage has increased to over 14%; a 10% jump, which has been unprecedented and unprepared for by most). Families struggle to acquire household necessities, and trudge through the daily emotional burdens to try and create something worthwhile with their quarantined days. It is a global event that has tested our way of living, our fortitude, and our humanity.
I grew up in the backwoods of Kentucky, where my parents, my sisters, and I lived a homestead life of homegrown food and hard work. One of my fondest memories was helping my parents pack Tupperware boxes full of items they created by hand without the aid of machines or electricity, and heading to the fairs. My parents were artisans – people who worked with their hands and imagination, creating works of art that brought joy for many people. They were part of a community that greeted each other on early Saturday mornings at arts and crafts fairs, carnivals, farmers markets, and the little shop venues on small-town main streets or outside the bustling of urban sprawls. We would unload those boxes full of handcrafted works of art, setting them delicately on folding tables, and waited, hoping passersby would catch sight of one or two items they found wonderful. There were many times when events would provide little money; yet, we would venture back to make more works of art and hope for the best another time, making the best of what we had and being grateful. I would watch my dad, Craig, bend over his workbench late at night with carving tools and bitten lip, giving everything into his craft and creating works of instrumental wonder that people became so fond of.