I have found that I’m craving sensory input about other places since being mostly confined to our apartment and local parks. (Today marks day 73 of social distancing, and although Kansas City has officially reopened, our life continues to look the same as it has for weeks.)
I dug out my external hard drive last week to look at photos of past vacations, trying to remember what it felt like not just to have a trip to anticipate, but to feel my feet in the ocean or sand in my scalp. Earlier this weekend, after too much doomscrolling, we turned on the jungles episode of Our Planet. It’s comforting to focus on birds and bugs instead of huge, unanswerable questions. (We’re all bird-watchers now.)
In “I’m Going Back to Minnesota Where Sadness Makes Sense,” Danez Smith writes,
Have you ever stood on a frozen lake, California?
The sun above you, the snow & stalled sea—a field of mirror
all demanding to be the sun too, everything around you
is light & it’s gorgeous & if you stay too long it will kill you
The poem, as I read it today, grounds me in the possibilities of nature. I can picture the blinding light, feel the cold seeping through a down jacket and wool socks. I’m soothed by letting my imagination take me somewhere else.
Smith’s lines remind me of the lyrics in Brandi Carlile’s “Have You Ever”:
Have you ever wandered lonely through the woods?
And everything there feels just as it should
You’re part of the life there
You’re part of something good
If you’ve ever wandered lonely through the woods
While we can’t go far, we can imagine our way into the forests and tundras and coastlines. We can watch the bluebirds and cardinals in the neighborhood. I am finding that there are many ways to see the world.