So this is how it ends. Not with a shot or the flip of a switch or a decisive blow, but rather a Canadian convoy, a patchwork of recalled mandates, another set of numbers and curves.
The end is a slow unraveling.
String is made up of individual fibers twisted together to form a single strand. Nearly two years ago, we twisted confusion, fear, despair, loneliness into a strand. At least for a time, it felt like we held on together.
Today I have at home Covid tests stacked on a shelf. I wear a mask. The lady in front of me at Target does not. Parents and students stand outside my kids’ school with signs reading “#letthembreath” and “we support mask choice.” I talk to another parent who’s still insisting on N95 masks.
I can find charts and stats and figures that point to the end of Covid and still others that say it’s too soon to declare the end. I can find opposite and conflicting “truths” about masks, Covid, Fauci, inflation, Trump, Hilary’s emails, UFO sightings.
We’re still here. With our opinions. And frustrations. And weariness. And questions. And hope. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Standing among frayed edges, it’s hard to see exactly where things went wrong or how much further we might unravel. Isn’t that another truth? A string that’s come undone only digresses.
We’ve endured a couple of Covid variants, tried following squiggly guidelines, postponed and waited, postponed and waited.
Those of us who have evaded Covid are just waiting for our number to be up. We’re still here but starting to feel like we’re in some lower stakes Squid Games or the battered tree trunks that remain after a tornado.
Collectively we’ve weathered a near insurrection to end a centuries long democratic experiment, wildfires and floods, a war on the media, the death of Betty White. We’re in the midst of reexamination of who we are, where’ve been, and where we want to go. Of course, we’re tattered and frayed.
Standing among frayed edges, it’s hard to see exactly where things went wrong or how much further we might unravel. Because isn’t that another truth? Once a string starts coming undone, it doesn’t stop.
There are a few ways to fix a frayed end. One of the most common and easiest ways is to light it on fire — a desperate but effective scorched earth tactic. The other is to strangle the ends together with a thinner, stronger piece of twine and hope for the best.
Sometimes the best way is to simply let go. Walk away and start over. Although that deprives us of an ending.
Endings are satisfying. They tie up loose ends. They provide closure, a chance to reflect and give us the ok to move on.
We’re still here, waiting for an end.
The reality is, we might not get our neat and tidy Covid ending. But it doesn’t mean we can’t go ahead and begin again.