The State Of Things


Brianna Camp

The truth was fire on their lips.
Dripping with all those unspoken things.
Everyone waited for an indication, a harbinger,
An omen of that long-held silence breaking.
But the fires resisted our attempts at extinguishing, 
They fought our anguished expressions. 
That now, in our dull humor, seem common-place.
And nothing. 
Nothing revealed itself in that numbingly heated blaze. 
They all merely, happily, contentedly, resumed burning. 

Featured image by Nicky Hoover

At this moment, our lives are filled with tension where our sense of community used to be. Families booming with laughter are replaced with empty seats at a table that nobody uses anymore. With our purpose on pause and uncertainty festering like a parasite on our mindfulness, I think many of us can relate to the sense of lost time we are experiencing. Whether you’re spending your days at home or attempting to go out and be a part of the world, the constant consciousness of safety coupled with the monotony of mundane tasks make the days blend together. Not to mention, with online communication being our primary form of connection, much of our available attention is spent on a screen, making it seem like we aren’t really accomplishing anything. 

For me, there is an ever-present feeling of being behind, like I am missing out on my life’s moments (whether in-person or virtually). I feel as though I am playing a game of tag, but I never catch the thing I am searching for. Maybe it is just the end of the term, this year or finally some easing of stress, but even attempting to think about future things seems impossible. The normalcy of canceled plans, fearing even minor sickness keeping us from doing what we need to stay sane and the disappointment that ensues, is understandably disheartening. I miss family and the connection I felt from meeting my peers for class discussion each week. I miss when people could come together without feeling they are endangering one another. Most of all, I feel that there is an absence that I do not know how to fill. Can we keep watching ourselves smiling through? 

As these days drone on, more daunting news comes barreling through our various media channels, and we wish we could put this reality of ours on pause. Slow down. Breathe. Let worries go. But the luxury of relaxing is not something many of us can afford. We either find ourselves buried under the weight of the financial burden, the sadness of this year gone by fresh in our hearts or we feel feral as we fight to keep our human rights intact. We see opposition no matter where we look, but maybe we are tired after the tumult of the last year. Perhaps we want to wait for a sign. We want better things to come, but are conflicted by the messages saying, “Take action now.” “Make a plan.” “Don’t wait!” 

Making change is a terrifying, exhilarating, but necessary responsibility, and collectively, even as we seem so separate, can pave new paths for this world and ourselves. My poem here is an acknowledgment of all that build-up of conflict I see in the world but also in myself. These words came to me just four short years ago, but living in this year that seems like a lifetime, it feels necessary to reinvent these same words and turn them into actions. They shouldn’t be stuck in a version of the past that cannot be changed but be the paving stones for those new roads we are making. And for me, a constant metamorphosis feels comforting. When nothing else is stable, I know that I am able to change with the times, no matter how hard I may attempt to hang onto the past.

My only sentiments (for now) are this: keep going. We are more resilient, more capable and more courageous than our past selves. We are better for learning from our mistakes. Keep fighting. The world you want to create is worth it. Keep living. Our lives may seem strange nowadays, but it is meant to be an adventure, so go along for the ride, but be mindful of how your actions affect others. Above all, keep learning, because a complacent mind is one that is dying. To borrow words from a sage person I once knew (who was inspired by Albert Einstein’s original quote), “The day you stop growing is the day you start to die. Learn until it hurts too much, then enlighten yourself some more.”