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  • Amanda Stockton

Existing in the Time of Covid

I havent blogged in months. Caught up in the spiral of nothingness and everythingness that has been the last quarter of 2020. The fires spoken of in my last post stripped me bare of what little emotional gravity I had left. I spiraled into the abyss. But then what happened? But a beautiful display of humanity. My community, my Twitter family, as it were, rallied and pulled together a fund to help me in whatever way I would need. Money that I then lived on for these months. Got my kids a round of warmer clothing. Groceries. Life. Mostly…hope. Love. Security. Things seemingly sparse in this year of quarantine-induced solitude, sickness, death, protest, and governmental abandonment.


Ive pondered over the months what I would write—how I would write—when so much of what life has been has been loneliness. But not an unfamiliar place. And maybe that was the wrong point to focus on. Since Covid, Ive seen and met and socially distanced social interactions with fellow creatives. Be that time by the ocean, discussing writing over mai tais, talking about art and the struggle to continue to create while sitting by the river and picking blackberries, or even passionate conversation over the snow at a suffocating altitude. The fire that drives creation—art, words—it has not been snuffed out by the relentlessness of the year that never ends. It burns. It tears. It pulls from whatever corner it possibly can. Because the beast is part of who we are as creators. Even when our hearts and our brains are so tired and run down and sunk so deeply into the darkness, that we cant hear it or feel it or, if we can, we cannot lift our hands to abide it.

We punish ourselves for not taking advantage of the time forced upon us. Forced. Like some shitty incel you get locked in an escape room with. How can we expect ourselves to focus when we are too busy not-so-simply surviving? We can’t. We shouldn’t.

And if there is anything that I have learned from this year and from my few in-person social interactions with fellow creators, it is the necessity of humans as a species for socialization, let alone that of the ever angsty artist. The truth is, we feed off one another. Leeches of energy and inspiration. We see and hear and feel the vibrations of excitement and passion and accomplishment from one another, and it feeds that burning beast within us and grows its hunger all the same, pushing our desire to create up to the surface.


I look back to November 2014, when I went to the book tour show for Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. She read and she sang and I cried and felt high from the experience. When I left my mind was buzzing with music and words and brushstrokes. Inspired and set aflame. A few hours amongst other passionate people. Listening, absorbed in the energy of love and creation, in feral feminism, in freedom. In expression.


I wanted to scream everything that was held prisoner within my heart there in the suburban Portland streets. I could fly if I had let out that lead weight. But I got home and the cage door shut again.


I understand that 2020 feeling. The exhaustion, the cage, the empty forgottenness of self and future and present and everything that isnt the same four walls you see day in and day out, every moment until you are those walls. Bare and there only for infrastructure.


But that wasn’t even the whole of what we all dealt with in 2020. Murders. Sickness. Safety unsecured by an invisible trespasser. Militarized police. Marches. Protests. Cities literally set aflame. And the core of our very political foundations as Americans under threat.


Do not under appreciate survival as an accomplishment.


It is so easy to lose track of the positive. The moments that come and swiftly pass through us with no more urgency than a single breath to struggling lungs or a blink over dry eyes.


Gentleness, kindness, generosity: all the very least of what I experienced and received during what has possibly been the most difficult year of my adult life. Divorcing and moving during a global pandemic, and doing so while physically alone spared no tear stains on my pillow. There were nights and days and all-the-times when I sat and thought I would never come through this. That everything was lost, I was ruined, I was alone, I had nothing and no one, and all that I had come through in my life had directed me to a cliff’s edge with a brick wall at my back.


What choice did I have but to leap? To fall.


And so I did.


I fell.


And in the descent, a crowd of hands reached out and caught me. Slowed my fall. Cradled the drop. Wiped away my tears. And for reasons still unknown by me, they also fed me, clothed me, supported my work. The only thing I have and took from the life I left behind, My Shine. Bought my art. Donated. Retweeted. Liked. Subscribed. This is my life. All that I have. All that I am is this, here. My work is my creations. My life is my creations.


And somewhere along the way, the all-the-times faded. Hope seeded, that maybe—MAYBE—I will be okay. That there is more. That people are more. That, perhaps, I am more.


2020 has been a lot of things. An uninspected rollercoaster ride built on shifting sands and a reminder that people and Love are out there. That things are possible. That humanity persists despite its loud and dangerous darkness, humanity is capable of so much goodness. Ive witnessed it. In my DMs, in my public feed, in my etsy sales, in my children’s faces when they open an unexpected delivery of treats.

We are tired. And we are scarred.


We are not alone. Even when we are. Even when the people we love and want to be beside are as good as a thousand miles away. We have one another in heart and hand. And when we fall, there is a safety net of humanity there to catch us. Waiting to help.


Community. Art. Creation. They are not separate entities. But one web of interconnected synapses feeding one another. We create. Others consume. We consume. We share. We commune. We belong.


We commission. We shop small. We feed the small cogs that keep the creation machine alive. And at the center of those cogs are people. It’s us. Together. And apart. All these miles keeping us from one another dont mean shit.


There is a resiliency about people. There is a resiliency about art and those that create it. We always come back to the pen because it is in our blood. And when you are ready, it will be waiting for you, right where you left it. 2020 be damned. We will find our voices again, when our throats are healed and our hands are no longer made of stone. When the sun breaks through. “It can’t rain all the time.”


The things that have taken me all year to complete, which should have taken a month at most, they’re still here, staring at me. Waiting. Patiently. Understanding. Gently whispering through the darkness that they will be here, they will not leave me. And somewhere the stars are shining and I start to believe them.



Through the darkness and in the cold there is warmth and there is hope
Shine through the night

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