Zach Beauvais

Pandemic Notes: the shockwaves of future grief are so great, they’re already propagating into my here, now.

Written by Zach Beauvais

Mar 31, 2020

So, tonight, I’ve experienced unsettling turbulence as I’ve tried to follow and understand news.

First, that bone-deep dread is starting to be called due across both my countries. We’ve been watching this wave for a long time, and it’s arrived. A thousand people have died in New York City [1] (and I was planning to be there last week, I’ve friends there now). 381 died only today in the UK [2].

And, I’m not finding the word sombre adequate for the estimates of a quarter of a million American deaths. Not sombre, no; I feel silent, and expectantly sad, like the shockwaves of future grief are so great, they’re already propagating into my here, now.

There’s also this surge of anger at leaders’ actions and lies. The confused responses, delayed comment, and failure to articulate analysis (much less actions and restrictions) raise this hatred-like anger. This isn’t the lash-out, snappish anger of tiredness or disappointment. This is a slow-burning furnace-stoked rage.

It is not right. It is not right. It is not right.

The echo in my soul as I see attempted autocrats bluster and opportunists sweep in. As lies are exposed, as fears increase because of intentionally hidden truths, as people die because of some men’s greed and power-hunger. It is not right.

It’s the ancient, primal anger of injustice.


But, today, I played games my toddler invented. I hid where he told me to. I jumped into the air, clapping in the manner he – quite meticulously – showed me. I laughed until my eyes overflowed and my sides ached as he tried sparkling water and spat it out, and he laughed with me.

I watched children pointing and laughing at geese in a beautiful park I could walk in. I watched an osprey circle for full minutes.

And, I remembered half a million people volunteering back home in Britain to help the hospitals. I’ve heard from educators reworking whole systems to keep people learning in ways whole populations couldn’t have done even a few years ago. I’ve read hopeful posts about humanity turning out not to be a hateful wreck, but vast movements of supporting, helpful, empathetic, wonderful, lovely humans [3]. I read hope that the world will learn from this, not just survive it.

Sometimes the world feels far too heavy. But, it’s not mine to lift. It’s mine and yours and ours together to build up: to love, to live, to create and experience. Despite the terrible flood, this world’s a gift, and we’re given to one another as this human tribe, this sea of wonder and fear and grief and joy.

I’ve not been taking my own advice, and haven’t found it easy to create art – or to just be me. Sometimes, I don’t feel sufficient for all the needs thrown at me.

Peace be with you.


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