For the past 14 years or so, as I understand it, the great folks of twowritingteachers.org have hosted a writing challenge they call “Slice of Life.” Every March, teacher-writers (most of the participants are teachers or have been teachers) are encouraged to write and post a narrative about a “small” subject–a slice of life–every day. For the other 11 months of the year, it’s just on Tuesdays. I’m doing my best to maintain the writing habit, not missing a day over the last three months.
It’s Tuesday morning, and the cursor is still blinking.
Last week, I learned how to write the script for, shoot the video of, and edit the footage for a “virtual hike” on a local Land Trust property. That’s worth a slice, certainly. But it doesn’t really seem important today. My county has lost over 105,000 people to COVID-19 in the same three months I’ve been writing. The world has lost nearly 400,000. Well over six million people experienced the virus.
My wife has been putting in a wonderful garden, and I’ve done a little bit of the work (but not much). The evenings outside would make a wonderful slice. It’s hard to share that, though, when my country–our country–has allowed public health to be politicized. Wearing a cloth face covering as encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDE) is apparently for liberals and wimps. Seeking to protect yourself and others is now a statement.
I’ve been building a bookshelf, and while doing so have relearned a technique for joining wood. That relearning is sort of a funny story, in a way, and I know I could write a humorous slice about it. But our country is reeling under righteous protest and unrighteous violence after the routinely horrific death of George Floyd, a man who suffocated under the knee of a police officer who gave an oath to protect and serve his community.
Last night, here in the state of Alabama, I experienced a unique kind of history being made as a monument to the Confederacy was removed from a park in Birmingham. I watched on my phone as the crane moved into position and the monument was dismantled. I’m not sure how I’d have written that slice. I’ve lived in Alabama for 20 years now, but I don’t have the experience to understand the feelings (both for and against) people have for that statue and many others like it; I respect the sincere views they hold, regardless of my own opinion.
I would have wanted to see what I could do with it, though, but any attempt to reflect on that event is overshadowed by yesterday’s words and events from this great nation’s capital. The Secretary of Defense used the term “battle space” to refer to the cities of The United States of America. “Battle Space.” The Insurrection Act is being encouraged by some who hold high positions in our federal government. Near the White House, law enforcement officers used tear gas, concussion grenades, and rubber bullets to remove lawfully-assembled protestors from the area around St. John’s Episcopal Church. They did so to allow the president of the United States to walk there for photos.
In so many ways, Rome is burning.
Next week I’ll write again, and I’ll do my best to share something positive. For this week, though, this is all I’ve got.