‘Resonance’ Might Be My Favorite Word Right Now
Discord is being out of tune. It has its place (listen to Gang of Four or Ornette Coleman). But resonance is harmony and the world has been out of tune with itself during the pandemic. We’re due for a major change, a sea change*. I feel like it is on the horizon. But how can we make it personal?
Last night I was grabbing a bite at my local, a steakhouse in a neighborhood boutique hotel. A woman sat next to me waiting for takeout. She and her son were staying at the hotel while he was looking at a local college.
We struck up a conversation which started with the normal small talk, what brought her to town, etc. But we almost immediately veered into the subject of getting vaccinated and how much it changes things, how visceral a change it is to know you are far less likely to get sick or infect others.
It really is an indescribable feeling, especially after a year of isolation, and in my conversations I have found that this feeling seems to be universal. Though we only talked for twenty minutes or so, we moved from Covid to what we looked for in the future. It turned out she is an English professor who teaches writing.
Of course, being a writer and reader, I jumped into talking about writing and she asked several great questions. Finally her food arrived and she left. It felt like in that short time we had made a meaningful connection, a resonance.
The world felt a bit more in tune with itself.
The Covid year highlighted division and community
It’s quite odd when you consider this disparity. It was necessary for us to act as a global community, with the interests of others taking precedence over our own, to fight the pandemic. But we had leadership in the US that set an awful example and thrived on division, encouraging hatred and racism.
This division took common sense precautions like masking and distancing, actions that involve no actual personal cost, and made them into inflated issues generating anger and violence. There was no resonance between the greater needs of the community and personal responsibility.
This is an individual action item, to personally start healing these divides. I know many are far beyond any ability to compromise. They have descended into magical thinking that if they ignore reality and only seek the company of those like themselves, this pandemic will simply fade away. As we are seeing now, all over the planet, it is not.
Those people, who are living in fear of nearly everything and feeling cornered, exploded in hatred on Jan 6th when the mob burst into the Capitol to try and make their magical thinking into reality. With over three hundred arrests so far, for very serious crimes, they are belatedly finding out that their reality was not, and is not, real.
This is a time for self-awareness
My conversations with both strangers and friends I have not seen in months, tell me that this past year has been a time of reflection for most. Yes, I lost a friend to the Trump paranoia (fear and panic over imagined things) and came to doubt the beliefs of some others who seem ready to parrot things he said. The scary thing about talking to them is the tone that comes into their voice when these dark topics come up.
You can hear desperation. Fear. Panic. And self-doubt hidden by absolute surety on the surface. Their voices change, becoming shrill and insistent, even when talking about some completely crazy theory as though it was proven fact. It is easily the strangest thing to come out of this Covid year; that panic and denial.
I can’t do anything for someone who made their minds up about a belief system, regardless of logic. So I let them go.
Giving up on a friend is a terrible thing. But when they are bringing nothing positive to the table, it is a matter of self preservation. Personally, I am nurturing a newfound self awareness. It is showing up in my writing and in my interactions with others. The Dalai Lama once, when asked to define the core of Buddha’s message, said:
“if you can’t help a situation, don’t make it worse.”
Think about this when compared to the Golden Rule of the West: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is a difference. The Western version implies actively doing something to another person based on your beliefs. Buddha’s version is the essence of compassion: help, don’t hurt. This is a form of resonance.
There is a responsibility here that we all share, to either help others or do nothing to make things worse (like not wearing a mask or skipping the vaccines). This is not a big ask. Simply be supportive, check in on others, including strangers, and do not deal with those in denial. Their path has diverged from ours. I hope they find their way, but I’m not spending energy trying to change people these days.
*A note about the expression ‘sea change’:
This phrase came about in the era before intercontinental flight. If a person was in mourning or recovering from an illness or personal issue, their family might send them across the ocean on a ship, as a way of moving past their problems. The long journey and the new surroundings reset them and helped them move on with their lives.