Bright Lights Across a Dark Space: Angst in the Time of Corona

I hemmed and hawed and let the cursor hover over the buy button.

Returning to the U.S. didn’t feel great, but staying in Mexico seemed unwise.

After a layover in DFW and the first American-made IPA in almost half a year, the plane touched down in Boston. That was over a month ago. How time flies.

Life’s been up and down, like the arc of a return journey or my sense of security throughout the week. At first it was concern about personal safety. Then money, then long-term prospects, then the big why? Like moving up Maslow’s hierarchy of angst. 

Things have settled a bit, as muddy water does when left alone. Too much action agitates the mental pot which circulates the noetic debris, if you’ll allow the metaphor. Sometimes you just have to let things sit. So I’ve been trying to sit with it.

It, as in freelancing, which I’ve been doing for 1.33 years now. A year and a half sounds more impressive, but that’s a lot of rounding up when the total number is small. So 1.33 it is.

There are questions about whether this can work. From many accounts it’s a fraught existence. You do it because you love it, or couldn’t do anything else, or you have a trust fund. You certainly don’t do it for the money. 

Money isn’t the be-all-end-all, but it matters when you’re getting to an age where whether you want to have a family in the future starts factoring into personal finance. 

If I had started in my 20s it’d be easer to ride the wave, I think. In your 30s, when many others are now rising in their careers, buying homes, having kids, it makes one think twice about the path and the prospects of your career choices. 

After all, writing and journalism isn’t a make it big vocation. Hell, it’s barely a make $50k a year occupation.

I’ve been telling myself I’d give it three years. But a pandemic didn’t really factor into that. Thank GOD for PUA or I’d be SOL. So I’m sitting.

Then it was the future. There’s a lot of high-minded talk about the importance of journalism for democracy. But high praise isn’t pocketable and newsrooms have been going barren for the past twenty years. Orgs are making it work, like the NYTimes, but I know publishers in my domain are having a hard go like many others. 

Journalism also seems untenable when it relies on the likes of Jeff Bezos to swoop in to save the WSJ, or leaders around the world flout the truth and disparage the searching minds and mouthpieces that express it. And of course the trend of #FakeNews.

But I like it—writing— so I started to think I should diversity my beat, look for market opportunities, have contingency plans. There are internships and jobs, grants and fellowships, grad school and the like. But at the end of the day it mostly made me want to look into the bottom of a hole, tail feathers up. So I’m sitting.

When I was younger I used to think life was easy. It seems like it’s gotten harder over the years. 

Depending on your glare, the world looks ablaze or bleak. There are bright spots sure, like solar flares ripping through the vacuumed nothingness firing energy like uncoiled punches saying, “bring it on!

Those bursts are the good and true and the universal. They are what make you breathe again and feel proud to be part of the human condition. 

The other night meteorites scorched through the night sky. I slept through it. But I knew the glittering lights were there.

Because I’ve been sitting with it.


Feature photo by Luca Iaconelli on Unsplash

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